The national president of the Nigerian Association of Resident Physicians, NARD, Dr. Innocent Orji, has revealed that Nigeria has lost around 2,800 resident physicians in a two-year period.

He said the number does not include consultants and other doctors.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of a three-day meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) in Uyo on Saturday with the theme: ‘Improving the well-being of health workers: a panacea for the brain drain (political perspectives and doctors)”, the President revealed that, according to a study carried out by the organization in September 2022, a total of 800 resident doctors traveled outside the country from January to August.

He said the implication was that 100 resident doctors leave Nigeria every month.

Orji noted that the exodus of doctors to foreign countries has continued to affect healthcare delivery and service in Nigeria as one doctor is expected to treat more than 10,000 patients without a commensurate welfare package.

The president denounced the poor conditions of service and well-being of health workers in Nigeria and called for adequate remuneration, as well as the development of infrastructure in hospitals across the country to deal with the rate of brain drain.

He also called for a 15% annual budget allocation for the health sector in line with the 2001 Abuja declaration for the financing of health care in Africa and global best practices.

While calling for a review of bureaucratic bottlenecks in the process of hiring doctors for easy employment, the president urged the federal government to ensure the reasons doctors leave the country are addressed.

According to him, “We did a study in September of last year and got facts that in a two-year period, we lost 2,000 resident physicians. From January to August 2022, we lost 800 doctors, that is, we lose 100 doctors every month. I always say, as politicians are playing politics, they should also pay attention to governance because there will come a time when the elections are over in February and March, and they will come back to find out that there are no doctors again.

“Although we have a massive shortage of doctors, the truth is that we still have doctors on the street looking for jobs but the bureaucracy in the system is a major problem. We know that the bureaucracy in the government is to follow due process and so on, but there should be a point to review everything that’s on the ground to see if it’s working or not, there should be a mechanism to replace clinical staff, who are leaving the hospital.

“Even if you do that, it’s not going to solve the problem, but it’s going to help reduce it because the people who are leaving are highly-skilled doctors, even if you hire new people, before they get to that level of competency and training. it will take time, so it is best to address the reason why doctors are migrating.

“The reason doctors are leaving is not just for pay, they need housing schemes, car loan schemes and other things that even the government doesn’t necessarily need to spend their money on, what you need to do is just be midwife the process and get in private investors who would finance that.

“Another reason doctors leave is because of poor infrastructure. It is very discouraging that as a doctor you know what to do to save your patient’s life and you end up losing the patient due to lack of infrastructure. If overtime goes by, you fall into depression, this is not a joke, and the next thing you have to do is walk away and go to a better system. If the government wants to address this, there are no shortcuts, they can address it.”

Orji also said that NEC, in its resolution, urged the National Assembly to enact laws protecting healthcare workers, adding that chief medical directors of tertiary hospitals should take responsibility for safety in their various hospitals. , since NARD would no longer see its members being assaulted by staff, relatives of patients or security agents.

He added that NEC called on the federal government, the Nigerian Governors Forum and all stakeholders to convince the governors of Abia, Ondo and Ekiti to urgently pay back salaries and allowances owed to their members, which he said , the one from Abia state has arrived 25 months late.