High taxes, deductions from poor salaries and emoluments, low work satisfaction are challenges facing Nigerian doctors that make 88 percent consider moving out of the country in search of jobs abroad.
A survey report released by NOIPolls recently in Abuja, titled: “Emigration of Nigerian Medical Doctors”, in collaboration with Nigerian Health Watch, revealed that 88 percent of Nigerian doctors are currently seeking work opportunities abroad owing to some factors.
The United Kingdom and the United States of America are the top destinations where Nigerian medical doctors seek work opportunities, according to the survey.
Other countries include Canada, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Dubai, The Caribbean Island, Ireland, South Africa, Qatar, and Botswana. The prevalent reasons, according to the findings include better facilities and work environment, higher remuneration, better welfare packages and benefits, career progression and professional advancement.
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The report cut across junior, mid and senior level doctors in both public and private medical institutions such as house officers, national youth service corps members, medical and senior medical officers, residents, registrars, consultants and medical directors.
More findings from the NOIPolls survey revealed that 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), among others.
A further in-depth analysis revealed that the United States appears to be an end destination for doctors who travel abroad for work opportunities, as they eventually migrate from other foreign countries to the United States. Other exams mentioned were the Medical Council for Canadian Examination – MCCE (15 per cent), the Australian Medical Council – AMC (15 per cent), and the Dubai Health Authority – DHA exam (10 per cent). Canada seems to have more amiable policies and habitual environment which supports foreign doctors – particularly from Nigeria- as more respondents cited Canada as a preferred destination over Australia.
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, had claimed that no fewer than 15,000 medical doctors in the country have left for overseas in search of greener pastures.
NMA President, Dr. Mike Ogirima, said that about 90 per cent of those working outside the country are trained in Nigeria where they acquired their skills.
“Nigeria has trained these doctors while other countries are making use of them. That is a sad thing. Of course in a country where the working environment is not conducive, what do you expect?, Ogirima queried.
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 in its recommendations said the major challenges in Nigeria’s health sector are due to poor health financing and suggested that Nigeria should embrace the call for Universal Health Coverage, which is, individuals having access to the care they need without suffering financial hardships.
“Universal Health Coverage would provide the needed health finance necessary to provide a conducive working environment for doctors.
“Better financing translates to more remuneration, increased training opportunities for doctors, availability of equipment and other consumables.
“The federal government recently established a central place for house officers across the country. This placement has not taken off yet. The government should commence this placement quickly and ensure that commonly underserved locations are given priority. It would be helpful if this placement is extended to residency and consultancy positions.
“There is a need for stronger public-private partnerships to drive increased investment in the healthcare industry, and possibly provide better remuneration to doctors (which is also a major factor causing them to seek opportunities abroad).
“Provision of adequate equipment and facilities necessary to conduct proper diagnosis of patients. This leads to low work satisfaction because the doctor knows that s/he could have prevented the death of a patient if the right equipment was available.
“There need to be increased incentives, tax holidays etc. given to private investors to encourage investment and growth in the healthcare sector in Nigeria. Several doctors interviewed, cited the disrespectful manner junior doctors are treated by senior colleagues.
“It is time to review training curriculum of doctors and bring it to international standards. Trainees have rights and deserve to be respected. Constantly shouting down junior doctors is demoralizing, affects the quality of care and as shown by this research, contributes to doctors emigrating to saner climes,” the survey noted.