Only 55,000 doctors to 200m Nigerians, says minister

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Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Ali Pate, Monday, expressed concern over the exodus of medical personnel from Nigeria.

He described as worrisome that only 55,000 licensed doctors are left to serve the growing population of over 200 million.

The minister, who spoke in a chat on a national television, said about 16,000 doctors left the country in the last five years and that about 17,000 have been transferred.

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Prof Pate lamented the mass exodus of doctors, health workers, tech entrepreneurs, and various professionals abandoning the country for better opportunities abroad, while the country is “barely managing” the available ones.

 

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According to him, Nigeria has about 300,000 health professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, and others.

 

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He said: “We did an assessment and discovered that we have 85,000 to 90,000 registered Nigerian doctors. Not all of them are in the country.

 

“Some are in the diaspora, especially in the United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (UK). But there are 55,000 licensed doctors in the country.”

 

Speaking further, the minister expressed concern over the impact of brain drain on the health sector, stating that it has deprived Nigeria of its top medical professionals, resulting in scarcity of healthcare practitioners.

 

He also highlighted an uneven distribution issue, with a significant concentration of skilled doctors in urban centres like Lagos and Abuja.

 

The minister explained that Lagos has 7,600 doctors and 4,700 in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) .

 

“The doctor-to-population ratio in Abuja is 14.7 per 10,000 population; in Lagos, it is about 4.6, even though the average is 2.2 by 10, 000,” Pate said.

 

The minister stressed the critical role of human resources in a robust health sector, saying Nigeria cannot afford to keep losing its top talents to developed nations.

 

According to him, the government is making efforts to enhance the training programme and incentivise healthcare workers who opt to remain in the country.

 

Pate said: “Now to the ‘Japa’ you talk about, it is not only limited to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon. Other countries don’t have enough and they are asking to take more.” TheNation

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