Nigeria Hit by Dire Dearth of Doctors, Enabulele Laments

The President, World Medical Association, WMA, Osahon Enabulele, has painted a very disturbing picture of state of healthcare in Nigeria, observing that while doctor-to-patient ratio, by international standard, should be a doctor to about 600 patients, what entails is a doctor to over 3, 000 patients.

Dr. Enabulele noted that whereas Nigeria needs over 250,000 medical doctors to meet the World Health Organisation, WHO, doctor-to- patient ratio, the country has less than 100,000 registered doctors, which he described as “grossly inadequate”.

At a public lecture on Thursday in Benin City, Edo State, organised by the Federated Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Edo State Council, the WMA President lamented that out of the less than 100,000 doctors in the country, only about 50,000 are actively practising.

According to him, “By international standard, a doctor should be assigned to less than 600 patients. But in Nigeria’s case, a doctor attends to over 3,000 patients. So, with this inadequacy, Nigeria needs over 250,000 doctors to cope with the current reality.

“The fact is, going by last updated register of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, we have less than 100,000 registered doctors in the country. Let’s say about 98,000 doctors. Out of this 98,000, only 50,000 or thereabouts are actively practising in Nigeria. You may want to ask: where are the remaining? Many have gone outside the country to practice due to the poor remuneration; many have left the profession”.

Dr. Enabulele asserted that for Nigeria to have good healthcare system, there must be political commitment by political leaders to meet the Abuja declaration of dedicating 15% of its budget to healthcare provision. He upbraided political leaders in the country who travel abroad to queue up before seeing less-qualified doctors to check their blood pressure they can conveniently do in the country.

He however, identified lack of fund, inadequate infrastructure, unemployment, workplace condition, remuneration, brain drain, poor economy, inflation and ineffective healthcare among others, as problems facing Nigeria’s healthcare system.

He noted that “Because of these problems, senior doctors, consultants, are moving out of Nigeria because of greater remuneration”, adding that this had resulted in low quality of healthcare delivery in the country.

Dr. Enabulele called for improved political commitment, empowered healthcare workforce, improved working condition, recognition of value and professional work of the medical practitioners; stoppage of medical tourism for political leaders; and making wages to be competitive to change the narrative in the health sector.

He suggested that the Nigerian government must create a better living condition for the people, including medical practitioners, noting that a lot of people want to come back home when the country is better.

He also expressed the need “to establish Health Service Commission that would better administer the healthcare system and drive medical manpower training, best human resource, among others”.

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