FACT CHECK: Are there enough doctors in Nigeria as Health Minister Ehanire claims?
Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire said there are enough doctors in Nigeria. He made the claim in Abuja on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 during a press conference.
He said, “…We have heard complaints from doctors who are now leaving the system, but there are actually enough doctors in the system because we produce up to 2,000 or 3,000 doctors every year in the country and the number of departures is less than 1,000.
Recall also that the former Minister of Labor and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had in 2019 while answering a question about the brain drain during a television program argued that there was more enough doctors in the country.
“I’m not worried about doctors leaving the country. We have a surplus. If you have a surplus, you export. It happened a few years ago. I learned chemistry and biology from Indian teachers when I was in high school, they are surplus in their country. We have a surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. It’s my domain, we have excesses,” he said.
CLAIM 1: Does Nigeria have enough doctors?
The Daily Trust’s findings contradict the minister’s assertion that there are enough doctors currently practicing in Nigeria.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2003, three (2.65) doctors were available to treat 10,000 people in the country. But the number peaked at four (4.49) in 2016 and (3.81) in 2018.
Furthermore, a recent WHO report revealed that for every 10,000 people in Nigeria, there are four doctors available to treat or care for them. However, the WHO recommendation for the doctor-to-patient ratio is one doctor per 600 patients.
WHO data on the global population of doctors among countries has shown that some African countries have more doctors to look after their population than Nigeria.
WHO data captures the country’s ratio of doctors available per 10,000 people in each country.
Mauritius (27 doctors in 2020), Tunisia (13 in 2017), Cape Verde (8 in 2018), South Africa and Egypt (7 each in 2019), Gabon (6 in 2018) have more doctors to care for their people than Nigeria.
Although Nigeria has more doctors than some other countries in the same African region such as Angola, Kenya, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Cameroon and Niger.
In 2018, Angola and Kenya had a ratio of two doctors per 10,000 people. In 2019, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Cameroon had less than a ratio of doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. And, Niger has had less than one doctor per 10,000 citizens since 2004.
In November 2021, the President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Innocent Ujah, said in his address to the Eighth Virtual Biennial and Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Section Kaduna State, that “the current doctor to population ratio in the country is approximately one doctor per 4,000 to 5,000 people.
“This does not correspond to the population of one doctor per 600 people recommended by the World Health Organization. This means that we need about 303,333 physicians currently and at least 10,605 new physicians every year to close the health workforce gap,” he said.
The executive director of a cancer advocacy group, Project PINK BLUE, Runcie Chidebe had revealed last year that Nigeria will experience a shortage of 50,120 doctors and 137,859 nurses by 2030 due to mass migration of health workers to foreign countries.
He noted that in Nigeria, the density of doctors per patient is 4 doctors per 10,000 patients and 16.1 nurses and midwives per 10,000 patients, which he said is below the recommendations of the WHO. World Health Organization (WHO) of 1 doctor per 600 patients and the critical threshold of 23 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 patients.
Corroborating this, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib told reporters during a Primary Health Care Summit in Abuja in March of this year that: “Today, only about 43% of Nigerians have access to quality primary health care services with only about four doctors available per 10,000 people, a fraction of the minimum rate recommended by the United Nations (UN) for basic medical coverage. It is widely recognized that 70% of the disease burden can be prevented and managed at PHC (Primary Health Care) level. »
Another survey conducted by Nigeria Health Watch and NOI Polls showed that Nigeria has a shortage of qualified doctors and needs at least 237,000 doctors to ensure that the health needs of the population are properly taken care of.
CLAIM 2: Number of doctors leaving Nigeria each year less than 1,000?
It is estimated that as many as 2,000 doctors leave Nigeria each year, with at least 8,983 trained Nigerian doctors currently working with the British National Health Service in the UK.
Data obtained from the UK’s General Medical Council website on the number of foreign doctors working in the UK shows that as many as 727 Nigerian-trained doctors moved to the UK alone and were licensed between December 2021 and May 2022.
Data showed that Nigeria is the third country with the highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK, behind only India and Pakistan.
Recently, data from the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, had revealed that the total number of doctors who migrated to the UK in two years was almost 9,000, while the total in the US is d ‘about 3,895. This means that about 6,447 Nigerian doctors migrated to the UK and the US in each of these two years.
CLAIM 3: Does Nigeria produce as many as 2,000 or 3,000 doctors every year?
Verdict: partly true
Last year, NMA Chairman Innocent Ujah, while lamenting the brain drain in the health sector, hinted that the nation was producing between 3,000 and 3,500 doctors a year. He said: “… This is particularly troubling because Nigeria only graduates around 3,000 to 3,500 doctors from the country’s medical schools each year.
The available data contradicts two of Health Minister Dr Osagie Ehanire’s claims, while one was partly true.
This fact check was carried out in partnership with the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD).