The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria has reported that 58,000 of 130,000 licensed medical doctors in Nigeria renewed their licenses in 2023. This may be unsurprising, as studies reported that before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 80 percent of Nigerian medical doctors and above 50 percent of Nigerian nurses sought work abroad. At the end of 2023, 26,715 Nigerians were in the United Kingdom on health worker-related Visas – a 215 percent increase from 2022. It is also reported that over 110,000 Nigerian nurses are currently practising in the United States of America. This flight of health personnel from Nigeria to several parts of the world is troubling, given the importance of the health workforce to the health of every nation, and to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage, which Nigeria currently lags at under 40 percent.
Recognizing this, The African Health Observatory Platform (AHOP) hosted in Nigeria by the Health Policy Research Group (HPRG), University of Nigeria, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) organised a policy dialogue on brain drain of Nigeria’s health workforce, and Africa at large.
This is coming just after the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has revealed that a National Policy on Health Workers’ Migration has been developed to address the issue of health workers migration in the country. The Deputy Director, Health System Department of Health Planning Research and Statistics, Dr Nwakaego Chukwuodinaka stated this at the policy dialogue on Thursday, 25th April 2024.
Chukwuodinaka said the Ministry has submitted a memo to the Federal Executive Council recently. “What we are requesting is to have a managed migration, and to be able to implement that policy, we need a nod from the FEC. One of the key component of the Health Workforce Policy is to incentivise those that are on ground working, especially those in the rural and underserved areas. Also to sign a pact with the destination countries. The pact is for us to equally gain from them poaching our health workers in the area of bringing technology for us, infrastructure and exchange programmes to help those we are training in-country.”
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