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Why Nigerian doctors are leaving for other African countries

by Victor Adetimilehin

Nigeria is facing a health crisis as thousands of its doctors are leaving for other African countries, where they are offered better pay and working conditions. The exodus of medical workers has left many public hospitals understaffed.

According to data from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, at least 281 Nigerian doctors are currently practicing in other African countries, such as Sudan, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Uganda, and Gambia. These countries are among the 55 nations that the World Health Organization has identified as having the most pressing health workforce challenges related to universal health coverage.

The main reasons for the migration of Nigerian doctors are poor welfare, low remuneration, lack of career progression, and insecurity in the country. Many doctors also complain of long working hours, inadequate equipment, and frequent strikes in the public health sector.

The Nigerian government has condemned the departure of the doctors as “illegal” and “unpatriotic” and threatened to withhold their salaries and benefits. It also said it was working to address their grievances and improve the health sector.

However, the doctors have insisted on their right to seek better opportunities abroad and demanded that the government honour its previous agreements on salary arrears, hazard allowances, and insurance for health workers.

The situation has left many patients in need of urgent care stranded at public hospitals, where they face long queues, high fees, and poor services. Some patients have appealed to the government and the doctors to resolve the dispute and end their suffering.

The Nigerian Medical Association, the umbrella body of all doctors in Nigeria, has called for dialogue and compromise between the government and the doctors. It also urged the government to invest more in the health sector and provide adequate incentives for health workers to stay in the country.

The association said Nigeria needs more doctors to meet its health needs, it said Nigeria has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world, with about four doctors per 10,000 people.

Source: Punch Newspaper

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