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Health News of Saturday, 12 September 2020


Why Nigerian doctors excel in foreign countries — NMA president

President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah, says the success of Nigerian health workers, especially doctors, overseas, could be attributed to their years of hard work and training while in the country.

In an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the consultant obstetrician and gynaecological surgeon said he was not surprised that doctors leaving the country are valued extremely highly in countries like Canada, Saudi Arabia, United States and the United Kingdom.

He said as the exodus of medical doctors reduces the number of workforce in the health sector, the association has notified the Federal Government to look into the possible causes of the brain drain.

“The problem we face is that we have few people on ground because of brain drain.

“Already, we have told the government to look into why people are leaving the country in droves, particularly doctors. It doesn’t appear like the government is doing anything at the moment. But we will try to work with them.

“Let them [government] realise the fact that doctors leaving the country are valued extremely in other places because they are properly trained in Nigeria.

“Nigerians are hard workers if they have an enabling environment, whether as doctors, lawyers, journalists or any profession.

“People only need to give them what they need and they will work hard. We need to make the government understand this,” Ujah said.

The NMA president noted that Nigeria has had a similar episode of brain drain in 1990, when many doctors and medical consultants left the shores of the country for Saudi Arabia in droves.

“They had to leave because the environment to practice here was very poor. You are a doctor and find it very hard to train your children because you don’t have the money.

“Consequently, many of them travelled to Saudi Arabia in order to give their children a future,” he said.

On July 27, our flagship publication, The PUNCH, had reported how the United Kingdom lured 58 Nigerian doctors with an offer of N47.9m annual salary per person.

In the report, the UK General Medical Council had revealed that no fewer than 7,875 Nigerian doctors are currently practising in the region.

The GMC, which is the government body that maintains the UK’s official register of medical practitioners, also says India, Pakistan and Nigeria are the countries with the highest number of doctors practising in the UK.

Further investigations on the council’s website showed that the number of Nigerian doctors working in the UK had risen from the previous 7,870 to 7,875 in less than a week

The council’s revelations had generated reactions from the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Nigerian Medical Association and the National Association of Resident Doctors.

The NLC had expressed concern about the poor health sector and doctors’ exodus, saying the nation was in trouble.

Findings by The PUNCH indicate that Pakistan and Nigeria have the highest number of doctors in the UK, in relation to the total number of doctors at home.

Currently, there are 74,543 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. With 7,875 of these doctors practising in the UK, it means 10.5 per cent of doctors registered to practise in Nigeria are in the UK alone.

India, which has over 29,228 doctors in the UK, has over 10 million doctors at home. This means less than 0.3 per cent of Indian doctors are in the UK; while, for Pakistan, 11.2 per cent of its 127,859 are in the UK.

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