President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Emeka Orji, has urged the Federal Government to review doctors’ salary structure if it must curb the problem of brain drain that has affected the health sector negatively.
Orji spoke on Thursday as no fewer than 162 Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed to practise in the United Kingdom in the last six weeks.
This is according to the register of the General Medical Council of the UK. The GMC is a public body that maintains the official register of medical practitioners within the UK.
In the last 42 days, the number of Nigerian-trained doctors practising in the UK rose from 10,824 to 10,986.
This implies that at least three Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed per day between February 2 and March 15, 2023.
Nigeria has been faced with worrying brain drain in recent times, with many professionals, including doctors, leaving the country for overseas opportunities.
It was also observed that Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India (31,979) and Pakistan (18,490).
While the Federal Government claimed that brain drain is not peculiar to Nigeria, the World Health Organisation warned that this could negatively impact the healthcare system and hinder progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security.
A 2023 health workforce support and safeguards list report by the WHO showed that Nigeria and 36 other African countries face the most pressing health workforce challenges related to UHC.
The President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Emeka Orji, said, “There is a need for a review of the salary structure, and the government needs to work with the medical bodies to resolve their lingering concerns.”
Also reacting, the President of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, Victor Makanjuola, said the country needs to produce about 12,000 doctors annually to meet the required number of physicians.
Makanjuola said the disturbing analysis shows that nine out of every 10 medical and dental consultants with less than five years of experience plan to leave the country for overseas job opportunities.