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 looming shortage of medical doctors in Nigeria due to increasing interest of Nigerian doctors in jobs abroad.
The Association noted that currently, 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,” it said.
This was, obviously, contrary to a statement credited to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that Nigeria has enough doctors to attend to patients, and that any doctor who desires to leave Nigeria for foreign job is free to leave.
AGPMPN President, Dr. Iyke Odo, who addressed journalists in Abuja, on their 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 quick action to forestall any calamity that may befall Nigeria’s health care system soon.
He said: “If you interview 10 doctors in Nigeria today, six of them will bodly 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.
“Many people have asked why Nigerian doctors are going abroad? Could it be that there are insufficient patients in Nigeria or what? 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 are too much work to be done but the available doctors are working so hard with bare hand.
“Society changes every day and every generation meets its own peculiar challenges with its own peculiar available means of solving them. Medical practice today is not the same some 50 years ago. Technology introduced telemedicine which has redefined medical practice in the world.
“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.
“Nigerian doctors go abroad and perform excellently well because they combine skills, knowledge, competence and supported with technology. There’s need for government to support the private sector to help transform the health care delivery services.”
He, however, explained that the forthcoming summit will provide the opportunity for the launch of N10 billion project implementation fund that would support the vision of AGPMPN to save, at least, lives of one million Nigerian mothers over the next five years, which will help reduce maternal and child mortality rate.