In contrast to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard of 1:600, President of the Nigeria Medical Association Dr. Ojinma Uche has calculated that the doctor-to-person ratio in towns devastated by terrorism and banditry is 1:20,000 or more.
This implies that there is just one medical professional accessible to treat more than 20,000 patients in these communities. According to Uche, there is often one doctor for every 9,000 people in other remote areas.
The NMA president made this statement in response to the National Assembly’s proposal to pass legislation requiring Nigerian-trained doctors to practice for at least five years before leaving the nation to work overseas.
The proposed legislation tilted ‘Bill for an Act to Amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004’, would “mandate any Nigeria-trained Medical or Dental Practitioner to Practise in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a full licence by the council in order to make quality health services available to Nigeria”.
The bill was sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson.
Responding to this in a live programme monitored by Saharareporters on Channel TV, Dr Uche said the proposition by Nigerian lawmakers would be the best solution to solve the scarcity of medical practitioners in the country.
He said, “The fundamental fact, let me tell you is that what you have even stated is the ratio in urban areas. When you talk of rural areas, you may be talking of 1 in 9,000. You talk of these areas where there is banditry and terrorism, it may be 1 in 20,000 or more.
“What we are saying is that all the logistics being presented do not make sense.
“All that we have come to realise is that doctors are important just like every other person, and the solution is to make the man that is important to feel that he belongs to you. It is like looking at a good footballer in your football team and you come with ban that he cannot leave. You cannot do that.
“When talking about brain drain, you look at the push-based reasons. What we refer to as the pool factors as well as the push elements. The external factors, which are beyond our control, are what cause them to get into the pool. The push forces, however, are those that we can manage.
The NMA president continued by saying that until Nigeria’s problems with poverty and insecurity are addressed, doctors will keep leaving the nation in quest of better opportunities.