We Don’t Have Enough Medical Doctors — NMA Disagrees With Health Minister

ABUJA – Contrary to a statement credited by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire that there are enough medical doctors in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Thursday disagreed with the statement, saying, “based on the facts available to them, the country does not have enough medical doctors.

In an interview with Vanguard,  the President of NMA, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, who believed that the minister may have been misquoted said a country that parades a ratio of 1 doctor to 450,000/5000 patients contrary to the World Health Organization’s ratio of 1 doctor to 600 patients have no enough doctors to attend to a population of over 200 million people.

“I don’t think he (minister) is serious about that but the fundamental thing here is that don’t want enough doctors.  He must have been misquoted because from 1960 to 2020, we have produced recorded over 80,000 doctors and 5,000 dentists registered with the Medical and Dental Council.

“When you remove those that have died, those that have left the profession and those that have  joined politics as well as those that have stopped practicing, it will come down  to about

“40  or 50,000 doctors.  Today, out of this number left, almost 20,000 have left the country, leaving us with about 20,000 to 25,000 doctors to cater for over 200 million Nigerians.  This will give us a ratio of about 1 doctor to 450,000 or 5000 patients.   The WHO ratio is 1 to 600 and this is the yawning gap and the Minister feels that 2000 to 3000 doctors produced in a year can cover the gap.”

He said even if Nigeria produces 2,000 to 3,000 medical doctors annually, they cannot replace consultants that have up to 15 to 20 years of experience the country loses to other countries due to poor remuneration, environment, and insecurity.

He said: “The minister is also looking at it from the perspective of numbers. He is not looking at the level of experience of those that are leaving the country. Even if we agreed that the 2,000 to 3,000 doctors are enough,  these are doctors that will go for house jobs and then go for youth service and you are using it to equate consultants, medical officers long-time medical officers, pediatricians, etc that are leaving the country.”

Alleging that the government does not want to acknowledge there is a problem, Ojinmah accused the government of running away from the solution to the problem which is the increase in wages, provision of appropriate equipment, and making the hospital environment conducive to fighting insecurity nationwide.

“We do not agree with the Minister based on the facts available to us, go and check the number of doctors who have registered with the UK Medical Council in the past two weeks. They are over 260 doctors and that is just the only UK.  I am not talking about America and Canada. Canada is coming down and taking them and running away. I want to believe that the Minister of health was misquoted.”

He called on the Federal government to tackle the brain drain problem in the health sector by addressing factors pushing doctors out of the country.

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