In an attempt to defend Nigerian medical doctors who are seeking green pastures abroad, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) says they are being driven out of the country by poverty and insecurity.
You would recalled that Rep Ganiyu Johnson, an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker from Lagos, had sponsored a bill which seeks to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act 2004, to address the brain drain in the health sector.
Part of the bill seeks to mandates Nigerian-trained medical and dental practitioners to practice for five years before getting full licence or leaving the country, has been strongly opposed by stakeholders including the NMA.
Speaking on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television, Uche Ojinma, NMA president, said the doctors are driven out of the country by issues such as poverty and poor infrastructure.
He said; “when you discuss brain drain, you look at two factors — the push and pull factors.”
“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. 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.”
Ojinma 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.