Amid the increasing scramble for greener pastures by doctors in Nigerian hospitals to foreign countries in search of good working conditions, a migration that has been termed ‘brain drain’ by experts, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has said that the country had a surplus of doctors.
He said this at the Nigerian Health Commissioners Forum with the theme, ‘Building a stronger health sector in Nigeria through collaboration and strategic partnership’.
Ngige mentioned the increasing number of medical doctors in the rural areas and the suburbs, adding that the number of doctors recorded with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria had spiked from an annual 3,000 registered doctors to 4,000.
He said that overseas-trained medical doctors were returning to the country, according to date from the council.
The minister said, “We’re not a United Nations’ country, we are a developing country. So, when such figures are given I will tell them every rule has an exception. We are not yet there.
“So, we shall make do with what we have. And when they’re saying he said yes. Surplus doctors. We have surpluses I keep on telling them that we have not deployed our medical manpower proportionately, and adequately as we should do.
“How many doctors do we have in the rural areas and in the suburbs since everybody is in the townships, with a medical and dental council data showing 4,000 doctors every year.
“Before, it used to be 3000, before the private universities came a lot of them are not doing medicine, including Afe Babalola and others.
“We are now in about 4000 plus, the people even trained abroad are coming back from Russia and Ukraine, and the rest of them all Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), is registering them.
“So, almost everybody has come to Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt to stay. And we have 10,000 primary care centres that are unmanned as at the last count.”
Doctors under the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have been on a 32-day strike over unpaid salaries and other benefits.
The doctors maintain that until all their demands are met would they pick up their coats, this moved the Federal Government to initiate the ‘no work, no pay’ directive, in what many describe as a scare tactic.
The government, after the strike had worn on for 24 days, issued a circular, dated 26 August, 2021, directing all Chief Medical Directors (CMDs), Medical Directors (MD), and registrars of federal health establishments to invoke the ‘no work, no pay’ rule.
Recently, negotiations between representatives of the government and NARD fell through, with the strike action seeing no end in the offing.