The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has attributed the mass migration of doctors out of the country to poverty and insecurity.
Last week, a bill seeking an amendment to the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act—to make local practice compulsory for graduates in medical and dental fields to render services within the country for five years before being granted a full license had passed the second reading.
Ganiyu Johnson (APC/Lagos), the sponsor of the bill during the debate, said the move was to check how medical professionals in their mass number leave the country annually.
Reacting to the development, Uche Ojinma, NMA president, said the doctors are driven out of the country by issues such as poverty and poor infrastructure.
He said this during an interview on Channels Television on Wednesday.
“When you discuss brain drain, you look at two factors — the push and pull factors,” he said.
“The pull factors are those things outside making them to go and are not within our control while the push factors are those within our control that are pushing them out of Nigeria.
“The first push factor is poverty. A new trainee doctor in the UK’s national health service (NHS) is earning about £40,000 per annum while in Nigeria, they earn about N3.6 million per annum. The fresh doctor in Nigeria earns in one year what the fresh doctor in the UK earns in a month. And you want him to stay?
“Another issue is insecurity. Doctors are been targeted. The killers of Uyi Iluobe who was murdered at Ohara in December 2022 are still at large. Violence against doctors and other health workers have also become a common thing.”
The NMA boss advised the federal government to solve the root cause of the brain drain by addressing the welfare of medical practitioners as well as the security challenges they grapple with.
“The bill is not the solution. You will discourage young medical students from reading medicine. My fear is that it may have spooked the doctors that will be planning to leave in a year to start leaving immediately before they are clamped down,” he said.
Last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said 133 million Nigerians are dimensionally poor, a figure which it said represents 63 per cent of the country’s population.