Nigerian doctors reject ‘anti-brain drain’ bill, as it is no solution to doctors’ exodus

Nigerian doctors reject ‘anti-brain drain’ bill, as it is no solution to doctors’ exodus

Young doctors in Africa often go abroad to complete their studies and then end up staying there, which has resulted in a massive brain drain during this time of Covid-19.

Nigeria has now joined a number of countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Rwanda and Senegal, who have put countermeasures in place to prevent a mass exodus of their doctors and paramedics. There were on average only 4.5 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in Africa during 2012-2016, according to WHO data. At the same time, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation says the proportion of doctors trained in Africa has increased in Western hospitals. In the United States, the number grew by 27% between 2008 and 2018, which is equivalent to hiring one doctor per day – who will most likely have been trained in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria or South Africa.

Some sub-Saharan African countries are particularly affected by this loss of healthcare workers. In 2019, Senegal had 0.88 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, while Burkina Faso had 0.94 and Rwanda 1.19.

But a new bill proposed by Nigeria’s National Assembly, which would impose a five-year period of in-country practice for health workers before they are granted full licenses, has generated a heated debate. This is because Nigeria has become a major recruitment source for experienced and newly qualified health and social workers who are lining up for job opportunities abroad — something that concerns the country’s government. Once the medics have received their licenses, they would then be free to pursue work abroad as physicians. The proposed law would help handle the country’s doctor shortage, Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehinire, has said. But many doctors in Nigeria call the proposed law discriminatory and an infringement on the rights of their newly qualified colleagues.

In recent years, an increasing number of doctors and nurses in Nigeria have left the country in search of better pay and conditions in Europe and North America.


Share This