Nigeria : How $1 billion medical capital flight undermines Nigeria’s health system, by NMA

  • 06 April 2022 / News / 489 / Fares RAHAHLIA

Nigeria : How $1 billion medical capital flight undermines Nigeria’s health system, by NMA

The over $1 billion spent yearly by Nigerians on medicare abroad is impacting negatively on the nation’s health system, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has stated.

Its President, Prof. Innocent Ujah who made the disclosure at the body’s maiden yearly lecture, yesterday, in Abuja, regretted that the brain drain was worsening the depleted healthcare resources in developing countries like Nigeria and widening the gap in health inequities worldwide.

He observed that human resources for health, representing one of the six pillars of a strong and efficient health system, were critical to the “improvement of health quality for our health system,” adding that Africa is faced with “a disturbing shortage of professionals.”

Ujah said: “According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sub-Saharan Africa has about three per cent of the world’s health workers, while it accounts for 24 per cent of the global burden of disease. Nigeria has a doctor-to-population ratio of about 1:4000-5000 which falls far short of the WHO recommended doctor-to-population ratio of 1:600. Nigeria is still grappling with disturbingly poor health indices. The Nigerian health sector today groans under the devastating impact of huge human capital flight which now manifests as brain drain.”

He pointed out that the theme of the lecture, “Brain drain and medical tourism: The twin evil in the health system in Nigeria,” was in response to the huge numbers of emigration of Nigerian medical doctors and other workers to other countries of the world in search of better work environment, safety and security, stressing that the situation does not paint the country in good light.

The NMA boss decried the billions being spent by Nigerians on medical tourism and the consequences it poses on the general economy.

“The twin monster of brain drain and medical tourism seems to have a bi-directional relationship, which implies that one will lead to the other and vice-versa. It is because of the devastating consequences of this twin evil on the health system efficiency and effectiveness and the urgent need for solutions and action that inspired the theme for this maiden NMA Annual Lecture tagged, ‘Brain Drain and Medical Tourism: The Twin evil in Nigeria’s Health System.’ The burning desire of NMA to proactively confront the many challenges of healthcare delivery in Nigeria must be sustained via evidence-based and constructive engagement, high-level advocacy and understanding to achieve quality healthcare for our people to reduce the unacceptably high morbidity and mortality. This national discourse on brain drain and medical tourism is, therefore, inevitable at this time and it is only right, just and appropriate for the NMA to take the lead, being the leader of the health team,” he added.

In his remarks, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorumibe Mamora, noted that the event was not to witch-hunt, but to find a pragmatic solution to the problems at hand.