Doctors’ exodus from Nigeria now more alarming- NMA

Hindered by poor conditions of Nigeria’s health care, bad remuneration and deteriorating hospital facilities, many medical doctors are abandoning the country for greener pastures abroad.

The PUNCH’s investigations revealed that although the exodus of doctors was not new, it had been on the increase in the last two years with countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as their destinations.

It was learnt that the exodus had increased the workload of those who were still in government service, as many states had not been employing doctors.

The Nigerian Medical Association, which expressed concern in an interview with The PUNCH, said in urban centres a doctor attended to 100 patients daily.

50 to 60 doctors leave Lagos hospitals every six months – NMA

In Lagos State, which has the highest number of doctors in the country, the state NMA says no fewer than between 50 and 60 doctors leave the service of the state government every six months.

The Chairman of the state NMA, Dr Saliu Oseni, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH, lamented the failure of the state government to replace doctors, who had left its service for greener pastures abroad.

Oseni said the failure to replace the doctors and employ new ones was affecting the service delivery of the NMA members in the state.

He stated, “It will be difficult to give a total figure of doctors that have left the service of the Lagos State Government since 2017, but to be conservative, no fewer than 50 to 60 doctors left the system every six months. Some of them leave for greener pastures abroad. Some of them take offers from the Federal Government and some retire. Not replacing such doctors is a big challenge to us.”

Our members are being overworked – NMA

“The situation is affecting our members as they are being overworked. Although we have a lot of doctors that have left the country, we still have a lot of unemployed doctors. Some of the hospitals have not employed or replaced doctors that have left the system in the last two years,” Oseni said.

In Lagos, a doctors see 100 patients in eight hours – state NMA

“The work that is supposed to be done by junior officers is being done by senior officers and currently in Lagos State hospitals, you see a doctor attending to close to 100 patients per eight-hour work in a clinic which is not good for the doctor and the patients.

“The ideal patient-doctor ratio is supposed to 1:500, but what we have currently in Lagos State-owned hospitals is one doctor to over 5000 patients. You cannot create an ideal environment and you want to judge the environment by the ideal standard. If I am going to see 80 patients in eight hours, there is no way I’ll follow the routine properly.

“By standard, a doctor needs 15 to 30 minutes to attend to a patient very well. This means in eight hours, I would only be able to see 15 patients and in between that time if I need to do some procedures that means I will see less than that. By labour law, we are even entitled to a one-hour break, but most doctors in Lagos State-owned hospitals don’t even have time for a break,” Oseni said.

A medical officer at the General Hospital Ifako-Ijaiye, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said doctors’ workload was too much, adding that it had made many of his colleagues to seek greener pastures.

Conditions of work made us seek greener pastures

He stated, “At times when people hear that doctors go abroad for greener pastures, all they think is the money, but I tell you money is not everything. Conditions of our work are overwhelming. That is why suicide and depression are common among those of us that are still in the system.”

Doctors’ exodus ‘ll continue unless… – NMA Chair

In Kaduna State, investigations revealed that doctors were leaving the service of the state government, with hospitals in rural areas mostly affected.

A source at the Gwamna Awwan General Hospital, Kakuri, told one of our correspondents that poor remuneration, insecurity and work progression had forced doctors and other health workers out of the state.

“Who wants to be killed? or who wants to be stunted in terms of career progression?” he asked.

The source noted that in a survey carried out in January 2018, no fewer than 21 doctors left at least one hospital for other countries or greener pastures elsewhere in the country as a result of bad conditions of service.

He added that the situation was similar in all the state-owned hospitals, except the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital in the state capital.

The state Chairman of the NMA, Dr. Stephen Kache, in an interview with The PUNCH, put the exodus of medical doctors from the state civil service at 60 per cent.


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