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Japa: Lagos has 7,600  Doctors for 21Million Citizens – NMA chairman Raises Alarm

Japa: Lagos has 7,600  Doctors for 21Million Citizens – NMA chairman Raises Alarm

 
 

Continuous exit of health workers from Nigeria has left Lagos State, with less than 8,000 doctors, the Chairman, of the Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos State Chapter, Dr Benjamin Olowojebutu, has revealed.

In an exclusive interview with PUNCH Healthwise, he further revealed that 100 doctors have been migrating every month in the past two years.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Ali Pate, said Lagos still has the highest number of doctors currently practising in the country.

He also stated that health professionals presently in the country are about 300,000.

According to him, of that number, 85,000 to 90,000 are registered doctors, while only 55,000 are licensed to practice.

Pate said in the last five years, Nigeria lost about 15,000 to 16,000 doctors to the Japa syndrome.

The minister further lamented about the migration of health workers from one part of the country to Lagos, “The issue overall, in terms of health professionals, is that they are not enough. They are insufficient in terms of the skills mix. Can you believe that most highly skilled professional doctors are in Lagos, Abuja and a few urban centres? There is a huge distribution issue.

“The population of doctors overall is about 7,600 doctors in Lagos and 4,700, or thereabout in Abuja. The doctor-to-population ratio in Abuja is 14.7 per 10,000 population. These are numbers that you can verify. In Lagos, it is about 4.6, even though the average is 2.2 by 10,000.”

In 2023, 1,417 resident doctors moved to the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom. Between May and December 2023, about 1,197 Nigerian-trained doctors moved to the United Kingdom.

Despite these figures, leaders of health practitioners continue to lament the alarming mass exit, which leaves the remaining practitioners overworked and suffering burnout.

For example, it was reported that Benue State has less than 600 doctors and no dermatologists.

Further speaking about the situation in Lagos, the NMA Chair, said the state has a high number of doctors because of those migrating from different parts of the country, and the presence of three medical schools.

However, Olowjebutu lamented that the doctors are overworked and overwhelmed.

He said, “Lagos State is still stable because we have medical schools that produce doctors every year and there are still doctors that gravitate into the pool after some migrate. Doctors leaving other states also come to Lagos and I call it internal and external brain drain.

“Due to the lack of resources and proper remuneration in other states, most doctors come into Lagos and from Lagos and then move to other parts of the world.

“We have a lot of doctors with underlying health challenges. We have lost a couple of doctors in the last few months because the work that is normally meant for two to three people is now being done by one person because of the brain drain. This has affected the quality of healthcare because the personnel are not as many as before. They are getting overburdened and overworked.”

With a population of over 21 million, according to the Lagos Global Sustainable Development Goals and Investment platform, Olowjebutu stated that the doctor-to-patient ratio in the state is one doctor to over 6,400 patients.

He reiterated the minister’s stance that Nigeria needs to produce more doctors to address the brain drain in the health sector and demanded an increase in doctors’ remuneration.

“The national NMA president today spoke about how the salaries we earn now are 100 per cent less than what we earned in 2019 due to inflation and other economic factors. So the government needs to think about improving the lives of medical doctors and healthcare workers so that they can stay back in the country and save our citizens,” he stated.

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