Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole explains Nigeria’s doctor-patient ratio within the country as a case of uneven distribution, not a shortage crisis.
He said this while addressing the issue of high numbers of Nigerian doctors who emigrate to other countries, mostly the western ones. Adewole made these statements on Friday, Sept 21, during the opening ceremony of 38th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD).
‘There is no serious shortage of doctors in Nigeria, people are free to disagree with me but I will tell you what the situation is across in Nigeria and many other African countries.’
‘The data obtained from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria as of May 30, revealed that 88,692 doctors are registered in their books. Of these doctors, only 45,000 are currently practicing and that gives us a ratio one doctor to 4,088 persons,’ he said
According to him, the ratio of one doctor to 4,088 patients in Nigeria is better compared to other African countries.
He believes Nigeria is not in dire straits when compared to statistics from other African Countries.
“Compared to many other African countries the ratio is not bad, for example, in South African it is one (doctor) to 4,000; in Egypt it is one to 1235; in Tanzania it is 1: 14,000; in Ethiopia, it is one to 1 to 118,000, in Kenya, it is one to 16,000 and in Cameroon it is one to 40,000.”
He went on to hinge the challenge in Nigeria Health Sector as being attributable to the uneven distribution of medical personnel in Nigeria.
According to the Health Minister, there is a huge imbalance between the distribution of doctors to the urban and rural areas. He added that the Federal Government is however concerned about the issue of brain drain and has set up a committee to tackle it.
‘The problem that we have in Nigeria is that there is a huge imbalance and disconnect between urban and rural areas, the North and the South; and about 50 percent of the doctors in Nigeria can be found in Lagos and Abuja axis whereas many of the facilities in the North and rural areas have no doctors.’
‘Federal Government is concerned about the disparity and has set a special committee to look into the issue of the brain drain and what can be done to keep doctors.’
The minister advised the state and the federal government to take advantage of the available manpower to fill the deficiency in the health sector to improve healthcare delivery.
He said that in the bid to attract doctors in the diaspora, the government has initiated a scheme called ‘One-Eleven’, that encourages doctors in the diaspora to work for one month and enjoy an eleven-month holiday in the country