From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), an affiliate of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), has raised the alarm over imminent shortage of medical doctors due to increasing interest of Nigerian doctors to migrate abroad in search of greener pastures.
AGPMPN President, Dr. Iyke Odo, who stated this at a press conference in Abuja, said the ratio of doctor to patient in Nigeria is so poor that many patients wait for doctor’s attention for several hours in hospitals, and sometimes, not getting the doctor’s attention.
“Ideally, it ought to be one doctor to 600 people, but the situation has worsened. If you interview 10 doctors in Nigeria today, six of them will boldly tell you that they are still in Nigeria because they are yet to get visa to leave Nigeria. It’s a calamity and indeed, a very big epidemic. It’s the biggest disease we have now in Nigeria. The way things are going, we may end up importing doctors soon to attend to help needs of Nigerians. Things are getting bad and we must act fast to salvage the situation,” he said.
Odo’s statement was contrary to the assertion by Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that Nigeria had enough doctors to attend to patients, and that any doctor who desires to leave Nigeria was free to do so.
Odo who spoke against the background of the association’s forthcoming national summit on health, with focus on primary health care services and health insurance schemes, challenged the government and other interested parties to take steps to forestall the total breakdown of Nigeria’s health care system.
“Many people have asked why Nigerian doctors are going abroad? Could it be that there are insufficient patients in Nigeriat? I can confidently say that there are too many patients in Nigeria. We weep because those of us who stayed back to work in the hospitals are overburdened. There is so much work to be done; the available doctors are working so hard with bare hands. Undoubtedly, the difference between the Nigerian doctor and his counterpart abroad is technology. Nigerian doctors are better trained and rugged in service delivery due to situations in Nigeria and several other factors that affect smooth training of doctors. What they possibly lack in technical equipments is acquired through skills and physical competence.”