By Esther Onyegbula
THE International College of Surgeons, Nigerian Section, ICS-NS, has said the country lost no fewer than 6,221 doctors to the United Kingdom in the last six years.
According to the college, this has made it difficult for over 40 million Nigerians to see a doctor, as the patient-to-doctor ratio has risen sharply.
President of the college, Prof. Akanimo Essiet, and the Secretary-General, Prof. Lucky Onotai, in a communique issued at the end of the college’s 56th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference held in Lagos weekend, and signed by them, said: “The ‘JAPA’ phenomenon has drastically reduced our healthcare workforce.
”Studies show that about 87 per cent of our workforce are dissatisfied and wish to emigrate to greener pastures.
“Before 2022, we had a ratio of 1 doctor to 4,000 patients whereas the WHO recommended standard is 1 doctor to 600 patients.
”Evidence shows that the gap widens and the number of registered Nigerian doctors in the UK rose from 4,765 in 2017 to 10,986 in 2023.
“This meant that 6,221 doctors were lost to the UK in the past six years. This suggests that over 40 million Nigerians will find it harder to see a doctor.
“With the weakening of our currency against the US dollar, our healthcare professionals now earn between one-fifth to one-tenth of what their foreign counterparts earn.
“Our healthcare policy needs to gradually transform from the predominantly out-of-pocket financing method into the NHIA financed method. Private sector-led healthcare mega businesses can be encouraged with good regulation to boost the funding of healthcare services.
”This will lead to improved emoluments for healthcare workers and facilities as well as better access to quality healthcare for Nigeria.
“The security situation in the country is alarming and impacting negatively on the health status of Nigerians. Government should act decisively to bring it under control.
“The above three issues have impacted grossly and negatively on the health of Nigerians since they favour migration.”
The ICS-NS, therefore, recommended that there should be universal health coverage provided at the national, state and local government levels.
“The insurance fund should be grown, and equitable payments should be offered to HMOs and healthcare providers. Access to capital should be made easy and affordable for investors in the health sector.
“State and local governments should endeavour to attract healthcare workers by providing good healthcare facilities, good roads, improved electricity, access to potable drinking water, outstanding schools, and access to telecommunication. This will lead to an improvement in the number of healthcare workers in those areas.
“The government at all levels should support the ICS-NS surgical missions each time the college requests for collaboration and funding to achieve the desired excellent surgical care delivery to Nigerians.
“For these to be achieved, budgetary allocation for health necessarily needs to be significantly improved to ultimately reach the WHO recommended percentage of the national budget.”