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  • Life - Health & Wellness
  • Updated: December 06, 2023

Brain drain: One doctor now treats 7,000 patients — NMA

Brain drain: One doctor now treats 7,000 patients — NMA

The Nigerian Medical Association has disclosed that the current ratio of doctors to patients is now one doctor to 7,100 patients.

The Federal Capital Territory Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Charles Ugwuanyi, while speaking with Punch noted that the mass exodus, popularly known as Japa, has further led to a shortage of doctors and nurses, and caused the closure of some health facilities.

Recently, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Health Dr Amos Mogaji, stated that five wards with about 150 beds had been closed in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital due to a shortage of health workers.

He explained that the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council’s registry which contained the details of all registered doctors in the country contained above 110,000 but “as at the last count which is just a few months back, the people who have paid for their annual practising license, which by implication are the numbers of doctors working here or supposed to be working are less than 30,000.”

This implies that about 30,000 doctors were left in the country to serve over 213 million Nigerians.

Ugwuanyi noted that the only option left for the medical healthcare workers is to scale down their operations, as a result, in sectors where there are not enough nurses or doctors, the facilities are closed.

Speaking on the doctor-to-patient ratio, Ugwuanyi said that it is now one doctor to nearly 5,000 to 7,000 patients.

“The ratio of the doctor per patient, you are talking of one doctor attending to nearly 5,000 to 7,000 patients. This is impossible and the funny thing is that when things go wrong, the doctors would be criticised,” he added.

Ugwuanyi decried the lack of planning, human resources and capital developments in the health sector by the government.

He further noted that newly registered and licensed doctors are leaving every day, stating that doctors are “leaving the country per second.”

Ugwuanyi disclosed that many doctors working with the government have not had salary increase since 2010, adding that this condition, when compared to the opportunities abroad, prevented young doctors from remaining in the country.

Ugwuanyi also noted that insecurity in the country also fueled the mass exodus and condemned the constant kidnap and killings of doctors.

He said about four doctors died in the FCT in November, attributing the cause of death to stress.

“My members are overworked. Last week, I lost three of my members here in FCT. They slept and did not wake up. What is the cause of death? Stress. The doctor goes to bed at night and in the morning, the door has to be broken down. This is the situation every month. Hardly a month passes by without me losing a doctor in the FCT, yet someone is looking for our downfall.

“A doctor was murdered in cold blood in his consulting room and the perpetrator is yet to be arrested.

“At NMA, we are helpless because we don’t have any executive powers. We have ideas on how to make the system work but the people who have the power to sign the document don’t listen or look for reasons not to listen.

“What is happening now is a child’s play of what awaits us because there is just so much a man can take before he breaks. There has to be a system that works for everybody. What is going on in the country is not sustainable,” he noted.

He also decried the lack of implementation of the 25 per cent salary increase.

In the FCT, Ugwuanyi noted that many private hospitals had closed down while the surviving public hospitals are “squeezing the resources they have to do more work but that has an expiry date because when you work people to a certain level, there is going to be the law of diminishing return.”

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