A hostile working environment, poor reward system, the dearth of needed equipment and huge funding gaps, among others, are pushing Nigerian doctors out of the country in search of jobs abroad.
A new survey conducted by Nigerian polling organisation, NOIPolls, in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch, has revealed that about eight out of every 10 (88 per cent) of medical doctors in Nigeria are currently seeking work opportunities abroad.
The survey report was unveiled in Abuja Thursday by the Chief Executive Officer of NOIPolls, Dr. Bell Ihua.
The findings cut across junior, mid and senior level doctors in both public and private medical institutions such as house officers, corps members, medical and senior medical officers, residents, registrars, consultants and medical directors.
The United Kingdom and the United States of America are the top destinations where Nigerian medical doctors seek work opportunities, according to the survey.
Consequently, many Nigerian doctors are currently registered to write foreign medical exams such as PLAB for the UK (30 per cent), USMLE for the United States (30 per cent), MCCE for Canada (15 per cent), AMC for Australia (15 per cent) and DHA for Dubai (10 per cent), among others.
In fact, an official of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Abimbola Olajide, revealed that facts at the disposal of his association show that no fewer than 2,500 doctors are due to leave the country in the next one month, in search of greener pasture.
Further findings from the NOIPolls survey revealed that the reasons for the looming brain drain in the health sector included challenges such as high taxes and deductions from salary (98 per cent), low work satisfaction (92 per cent), poor salaries and emoluments (91 per cent) and the huge knowledge gap that exists in the medical practice abroad (47 per cent), among others.
The report said: “These were some of the key findings from the survey and we hope these findings would help stimulate conversations amongst stakeholders in the country’s health sector and trigger the much-needed reforms to redesign of a health system that is responsive to the healthcare needs of the nation.
“This survey also seeks to sound an alarm of a looming brain drain in the country’s health sector if nothing is done urgently to curb this rising trend of emigration of healthcare practitioners – physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists amongst others.”
Various stakeholders, who spoke at the unveiling of the report, said the government at federal and state levels needed to urgently address what had become a national emergency and embarrassment.
Nigeria has about 72,000 medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, with only approximately 35,000 practising in Nigeria.
The emigration of the Nigerian healthcare workforce, particularly medical doctors has been a lingering problem in the country.