No fewer than 200 Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed by the government of the United Kingdom in just one month, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
Checks on the website of the General Medical Council, the body which licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the UK, showed that the GMC licensed at least 200 Nigerian-trained doctors between August 31, 2022, and September 30, 2022.
The statistics also showed that between January 1, 2022 and September 30, 2022, about 1,307 doctors trained in Nigeria were licensed in the UK as Nigeria continues to battle one of the worst situations of brain drain in its history.
Overall, 10,296 doctors who obtained their degrees in Nigeria currently practise in the UK. However, Nigerian doctors who got medical qualifications in schools outside the country are not included in the data. The rate of migration of medical doctors has recently become a matter of concern. The Nigerian Medical Association, while lamenting the high rate of medical brain drain, had said Nigeria might import doctors in the future. In 2015, only 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK. The number increased to 279 in 2016, while the figure was 475 in 2017. In 2018, the figure rose to 852 while it further increased to 1,347 in 2019.
In 2020, the figure was 833 despite the fact that the GMC closed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The figure for 2021 was put at 932. Currently, Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan.
The National President of the Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria, Dr Victor Makanjuola, while commenting on the situation, said, “In the last two years, over 500 consultants in estimation have left the services of government hospitals for practice abroad. All our government hospitals are consultant-led practices, which is the global standard. Now, we lose 500 in just two years and we have found out that those who are more likely to leave are younger ones.
“To sustain the system and be able to train the next generation of medical doctors and medical students, Nigeria needs to retain the older consultants who are in their 50s and getting close to their retirement so that they can stay back and train the next generation of doctors and medical students. Otherwise, the disaster from brain drain would be doubled because we will lose the younger ones and the older ones at about the same time, and you will find a system without consultants. This will affect the standard of care and the quality of care given by hospitals.”
Meanwhile, the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria has said that there is only one psychiatrist to 900,000 Nigerians in the country. According to the APN, the country has less than 300 psychiatrists attending to the Nigerian population approximated at 220 million.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the President of APN, Prof Taiwo Obindo, said the recommendation of the World Health Organisation is one psychiatrist for the 10,000 population. He, however, said many psychiatrists were leaving Nigeria as a result of the brain drain in the profession. Obindo said, “With less than 300 psychiatrists working in the country, the ratio of psychiatrists to the 220 million population will be about one to 900,000 population when the recommendation by WHO is one to 10,000. Some countries are even looking towards having one to 6,500 to 8,000.
The don said there was a need to train and retain more psychiatrists to stem the brain drain in the country. He added, “I spoke with the president of psychiatrists in Canada and he said more than 150 Nigerian psychiatrists were known to them in Canada. In the United Kingdom, it’s likely to be more and then you have many more in the United States, working there. So, more trained psychiatrists are out of the country than those that are within the country. Well, we may add that a few died and a few retired but that number cannot account for the number we have on the ground.