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Nigeria’s healthcare brain drain
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Nigeria’s healthcare brain drain

Nigeria’s top exports include crude petroleum, petroleum gas and scrap vessels. But there is another precious resource that leaves the country, medical doctors. Mbanefo Chibuike, a 26-year-old Nigerian based in South Africa takes a look at brain drain in the healthcare sector.

Between 2015 and July 2021, a total of 4,528 Nigeria-trained medical doctors relocated to Britain. This figure was released by The UK Medical Council recently but Nigerian medical practitioners also migrate to Saudi Arabia, the United States, Canada, Australia and the Caribbean islands.

Can anyone fault these medical doctors for seeking greener pastures? In April, The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), took industrial action. In addition to protesting against poor working conditions and pay, the doctors were reportedly also disgruntled about monies owed to them for 2014-2016 and were demanding their outstanding COVID-19 allowances.

While economic migration is not new, it is important to stress the extent of the problem and the impact of brain drain in Nigeria. A 2017 survey by Nigeria’s polling organization NOI found that 8 out of every 10 doctors polled were actively pursuing opportunities to work overseas. The doctors gave high taxes, poor salaries and low work satisfaction among their reasons for pursuing migration.

Nigerian doctors who emigrate aren’t only draining the nation of its valuable human resource but are also paralysing the health systems.

In an age where global health systems are already threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the emigration of Nigerian doctors creates a vacuum that results in the suffering of patients.

To ease the health sector’s burden, doctors can give back to Nigeria by working in its clinics and hospitals for a predefined period of time. But for this to happen, remuneration packages and working conditions will need to improve.

Sadly, health is not valued until sickness comes. It is a shame that we continue to ignore this dangerous trend as our healthcare system heads towards an impending disaster.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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About Chibuike Mbanefo: I’m passionate about routine health monitoring which led me to start Med-Hill Biomedicals and Consultancy, a healthcare solution providing affordable technical and advisory services to healthcare professionals. My interests are in research and reporting. I’m now completing my masters in Biomedical Engineering at Stellenbosch University, and in Business Management and Leadership Development at Tekedia Institute. I’m passionate about a professorship in engineering and believe that exemplary performance in public duties remains the noblest of humanitarian services.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles

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