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13000 health workers leave for the UK

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By Abraham Adekunle

Nigerian hospitals are understaffed due to lack of healthcare personnel.

Concerned Nigerians have continued to decry what they refer to as “brain drain” which is currently going on in the country. Brain Drain is a situation when a lot of highly trained or qualified people from a particular country emigrate to other countries in search for greener pastures. Eventually, they leave their country with lack of highly trained and specialist workers. This may be what is truly happening in Nigeria as Nigerian hospitals continue to suffer and lament from insufficient doctors and other health personnel in the country.

Over 13,000 healthcare workers have emigrated to the United Kingdom in the past year. According to the UK immigration report released on August 25, 2022, 13,609 Nigerian healthcare workers were granted working visas within the period of one year. This is second only to the over 42,000 who have emigrated from India. The report shows that the over 13,000 Nigerians were granted visas for the ‘Skilled Worker-Health & Care’ category and it accounts for 14 percent of the total visas granted.

Not only healthcare workers are leaving the country.

The report shows that India has the highest number of visas granted in that same category with 45 percent-over 42,000, while the Philippines is third with 11 percent-over 11,000. Nevertheless, it is not only healthcare workers that are leaving the country to work in the UK. According to the report, Nigerians are also the second highest recipients of the ‘worker’ visa. This is second to only Indians. In the year ending June 2022, Nigerians made up over 15,000 of the ‘worker’ visas granted.

This is a 303 percent increase when compared to the 3,918 ‘worker’ visas that were granted in 2019. India ranked first. A total of 102,981 Indians received work visa grants. The Philippines ranked third with 12,826, Zimbabwe ranked fourth with 8,378, and the United States ranked fifth with 7,748 visas granted. According to the UK Home Office report, “In the year ending June 2022, ‘Worker’ visa grants increased by 96 per cent (+108,794) to 222,349 compared with 2019, and now represent 67 per cent of all work visas.”

The mass exodus of health workers from Nigeria has caused public outcry.

There has been massive public outcry on the mass exodus of health workers from Nigeria, including from the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. In January 2022, the Medical and Dental Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) lamented the exit of more than 100 of its members who left the country in 2021. The president of the association, Victor Makanjuola, said at a briefing in Abuja that the medical officials left the services of 17 tertiary health institutions in the country.

Mr Makanjuola said the mass exodus of medical and dental consultants to more developed countries has brought significant disruptions to Nigeria’s healthcare ecosystem. A survey which was carried in 2017 out by a Nigerian polling organization (NOIPolls) in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch, revealed that about 88 per cent of medical doctors in Nigeria were seeking work opportunities abroad at the time. As of 2020, Nigeria had a doctor-patient ratio of 1:2753. This is in sharp contrast to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s minimum recommended ratio of 1:400-600.

Is a worker insufficiency crisis looming in Nigeria?

People are worried about a potential worker crisis looming in the country, especially in the healthcare sector. However, in 2019, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, said that Nigeria had ‘surplus doctors.’ He said that he was not worried about Nigerian doctors leaving the country to go and practice in other climes. A recent report credited a claim to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that Nigeria currently has a doctor-patient ratio of 1:4000-5000 instead of the minimum recommended by the WHO. The NMA insisted that just about 30,000 medical doctors were currently practicing in Nigeria out of about 80,000 registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MCDN) from 1960 to date.


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