UK licenses 266 Nigerian doctors in two months

The General Medical Council which licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the United Kingdom licensed at least 266 Nigerian doctors in June and July, 2022, The PUNCH has learnt.

The implication is that at least three Nigerian doctors were licensed per day in June and July 2022 despite the moves by the Federal Government to stop the exodus of doctors and health workers in the country amidst worsening brain drain of the professionals in the country.

Our correspondent, who has continued to monitor the GMC register, noticed that the number of Nigeria-trained doctors in the UK currently stands at 9,976.

The figure does not include other doctors of Nigerian origin who did not undergo medical training in Nigeria.

Presently, Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan.

The country however suffers a shortage of doctors.

The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria noted that Nigeria now has over 100,000 doctors who have registered with the council.

Worryingly, Nigeria with a population of over 200 million citizens, indicate the percentage ratio of doctors to patients still falls below the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 1:600.

A poll by NOI in 2018 also showed that 88% of Nigerian doctors are considering work opportunities abroad, but experts say the figure may be higher due to the rising insecurity and economic crunch.

Other popular destinations for Nigeria-trained doctors include United States, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

The PUNCH reports that the Nigerian Medical Association has continued to call on the Federal Government to provide a thriving environment for doctors and health workers to curb the massive brain drain.

Currently, doctors in Nigeria under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have issued a two-week ultimatum to the government over poor welfare and failure to implement the new hazard allowance rate that was signed in December 2021.

The doctors had gone on strike for close to 60 days in 2021.

In an interview with The PUNCH, the Publicity Secretary of NARD, Dr Alfa Yusuf, said, “Government should declare a state of emergency on the health care sector, address the challenges, improve remuneration and good working conditions and address security issues.”

When asked about the causes of brain drain, Yusuf said, “Poor remuneration, poor working facilities, insecurities including assault on doctors and burn out from over work, among others.”

Also, the immediate past President of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, Prof. Ken Ozoilo, said, “It is unfortunate that the government has once again failed to live up to expectations, but this is typical.

“This kind of attitude on the part of government and its agents feeds the notion that the government does not listen to workers unless they are on strike.

“Predictably, we are going into another round of NARD strike at a most difficult time and the government is squarely to blame.

“Brain drain will sadly continue and will get worse. There is no measure put in place by the country yet that is capable of stemming the tide. Even the new hazard allowance fails miserably in this wise as it is a far cry from the demand of health workers.

“The NARD strike is not inevitable, but it is unlikely that agents of government responsible will act on time to avert it.”

Efforts to get the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, proved abortive as calls and messages forwarded to his line remained unanswered as of the time of filing this report.

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