NIGERIANS and other nationals top the list of foreign doctors practising in the United Kingdom (UK), according to the British National Health Service (NHS).
A fact sheet on the number of registered doctors in 2012 published by DailyMailOnline showed that India tops the list with 25,336 doctors; Pakistan, 8,998; South Africa, 5,695; Ireland, 4,010; Nigeria, 3,936; Germany, 3,291; Egypt, 3,141; Greece, 2,711 doctors; Italy, 2,499 doctors; and Sri Lanka, 2,335 doctors.
Others include: Sudan with 1,418 doctors; Libya with 727; Burma, 691; Syria, 671; Caman Islands, 28; Kazakhstan, 26; Liberia, nine; Burundi eight; and Haiti, four .
Reacting to the report on Tuesday, President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, told The Guardian that the situation was unacceptable.
According to him, the country has currently about 71,740 medical and dental practitioners listed on the register of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), while about 27, 000 are currently practising in Nigeria. This indicates a doctor- population ratio of 1:6,187 assuming the population of Nigeria to be 167,000, 000.
Enabulele blamed the situation on poor conditions of service for medical doctors and other health workers.
Unconfirmed sources suggest that over 15,000 Nigeria-trained medical doctors are practising abroad – in the UK, United States, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, among others.
Enabulele who has been championing a project to encourage Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora to return home and contribute to the development of the practice in Nigeria, said: “The fact that over 3000 Nigeria-trained doctors are currently practising in Britain speaks volume on the poor work environment and poor job satisfaction among the medical workforce in Nigeria.
“There are certainly real suffocating challenges in Nigeria and indeed in the nation’s healthcare system which continually promote the huge emigration of doctors to other countries with better work environment and satisfactory conditions of service.
“Until governments at the local, state and federal levels are able to effectively handle the various factors (including the lack of professionalism, professional order and international best practices in the health sector and public hospitals) that promote the daily emigration of medical doctors/dentists to other countries, Nigeria may continue to serve as a manufacturing plant for the production of medical doctors/dentists for the healthcare systems of developed countries such as the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, which have a high demand for medical and dental practitioners from developing countries.”
The NMA president continued: “It is not acceptable to us. It is because of the unacceptable conditions of service in Nigeria. We have a similar situation in the U.S. where about 4,000 Nigerian doctors are also practising.
“It is an indication that government needs to create good conditions for developing medical practice. In most hospitals, doctors work under terrible conditions. That is the reason people are traveling abroad. Nigeria is producing medical doctors for other countries.
“Definitely the pull factor is going to continue to lure doctors outside our shores. It is time for Nigeria to open its eyes and move to retain the brains that are being exploited by other countries. The situation is an indication that a lot needs to be done.
“There is need to encourage the doctors here. Doctors are highly skilled but the conditions under which they work here are not conducive. I was in London recently and there is the National Association of Nigerian Doctors in UK. I interacted with them and I could see the pain in their hearts. Each time I ask them to come back, they remind me of the poor electricity supply, the bad roads, the insecurity, among other societal ills that have befallen the nation.
“There is need for the government to encourage those of us that are here to prevent and reduce the migration of Nigerian doctors.”
The Daily Mail London reported that: NHS recruits thousands of doctors from the Third World, while limits on places deny British students chance to study medicine; Health Service is hiring one third of its doctors from 143 different nations; government quotas mean straight-A students are being turned away from medical degrees; and those who trained outside European Union (EU) have to pass language test and medical exam.
It reads: “Doctors trained in some of the world’s poorest countries where medical qualifications are far less rigorous than in the UK are being recruited by the NHS.
“While some of Britain’s brightest students are unable to get on medical courses at home, the Health Service is hiring a third of its doctors from abroad.
“Among them are medics from 143 different nations including poverty-stricken states such as Liberia, Belize and the Congo.
“Some have studied in countries whose universities have few computers or medical textbooks and trainees are taught from blackboards in cramped classrooms where they are forced to sit on the floor.”
“Critics said it was ‘bonkers’ that British straight-A students desperate to become doctors were being turned away from medical courses due to government quotas while the NHS recruited staff from remote parts of the world with poor medical training.
“|The revelation comes amid fears the health service is becoming too dependent on foreign medics.”
One senior doctor recently warned that many of them had “little or no knowledge and experience of British culture or of our Health Service.”
By Chukwuma Muanya, September 5, 2013