Says it cost N457.6m to train one doctor in the USA 

NPMCN, NMA call for holistic approach to reverse trend

The new President of  the   National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Professor Akinsanya Osibogun has expressed worry over increasing cases of doctors and other healthcare workers leaving the country for greener pasture.

Osibogun, a professor of public health urged government at all levels  to put in place a mechanism that will discourage manpower for healthcare delivery from going abroad.

Speaking during his investiture as the 22nd President of the College, Osibogun noted  that it cost roughly $1.1 million (N457,600,000) to train a doctor in the United States of America which gives a rough idea of what medical teachers in Nigeria are contributing by producing over 3,000 doctors annually in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, about a third of these doctors is now emigrating annually due to push and pulls factors.”

Data obtained from the General Medical Council of Britain highlighted that about 4,528 Nigerian-trained doctors have registered with the council in order to obtain licence to practise in the UK. In Saudi Arabia and the US, on the other hand, the story is also the same. A lot of Nigeria-trained doctors and other experts abound there.

Moreover, studies show that Africa loses about $2bn annually due to professionals and executives migrating to countries such as the United States of America, Britain, Australia, and Canada. 

While Africa is remarkably losing from brain drain, the host countries for emigrating Africans notably benefit from such trained experts. This scenario has continued to have a debilitating effect on the growth and socio-economic development of the continent.

Osibogun pointed out that for the Nigerian government to halt and reverse the obvious crisis, “we need to urgently expand production of more doctors and improve the working conditions so that we can retain them.

“Investing in and partnering with the NPMN will help us produce more specialists to address our disease burden and provide more medical teachers to help produce even more doctors to serve more communities in Nigeria.”

Responding, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora said the brain drain syndrome in the health sector is of utmost concern to the Federal Government and efforts are being made to find a lasting solution to the problem.

He hinted that the setup of Health Sector Reform Committee by President Muhammad Buhari was to address the challenges in the health sector, “the loss of many highly skilled professionals to the UK, Canada, Australia, UAE, South Africa and Saudi Arabia among others continues to be of great concern to government both at the Federal and State levels.”

He expressed the Ministry of Health readiness to collaborate with the College on key areas such as special funding for the NPMCN to accelerate training of specialists to deal with the current wave of brain drain.

“Rapid deployment of Simulation equipment and support for the proposed regional training centres to further strengthen residency training. Effective and efficient handling of the payment of Medical Residency Training Fund 2022 to Resident Doctors.”

In his own contribution, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah said that improving working condition and welfare packages for doctors and other healthcare workers will go a long way in addressing brain drain. 

“Government needs to make rural areas attractive to doctors, equipped health facilities in the country and make other infrastructures such as power supply, water supply, roads among others functional.”

The immediate Past College President, Prof. Musa Borodo admonished Osibogun to uphold the enabling law, standing orders and bye-laws of the College and faithfully lead, promote and support all educational, scientific, professional and other statutory activities of the College.

In a 2017 survey carried out by Nigeria’s polling agency, NOI Polls, in conjunction with Nigerian Health Watch it was found that most doctors seek opportunities abroad as 88 percent of doctors were considering work opportunities abroad. On average, 12 doctors a week move to the UK.

Another survey identified push factors including the desire for better life and working conditions which was said to be the most important factor for seeking greener pasture. 

Medical schools and residency training centres in Nigeria are supported by government subvention. This is an investment which becomes beneficial to their host countries. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, It costs an African country between $21,000 and $51,000 to train a single medical doctor.

Nigeria is one of such countries which have lost more than $2bn since 2010 to training doctors who later migrate to countries such as UK. 10 percent of doctors working in the UK come from African nations, saving the UK about $2.7bn by recruiting these doctors.

Over half of the doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) practice outside Nigeria. The doctor patient ratio is 1 doctor per 5,000 people as against the WHO recommended 1 per 600 people.

Asides the United Kingdom, countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa also attract Nigerian talent. The migration of existing medical personnel will endanger the development of future Human Resources for health. Shortage of medical specialists contributes towards medical tourism as a handful of Nigerians spend N359.2 billion annually while seeking care abroad.

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