Promise: Pay Young Doctors to Stay in Rural Areas.
December 25, 2021

Buhari fails to keep his promise as Medical Brain Drain intensifies

Promise: Pay Young Doctors to Stay in Rural Areas.

Habib Sheidu
Habib Sheidu
Last Updated
December 25, 2021
min read

In President Buhari’s Next Level agenda, he promised to “Pay Young Doctors to Stay in Rural Areas” in the country. The Nigeria Healthcare sector over the last 2 years has witnessed a tremendous decline as the country still lose over $2 billion dollars yearly to medical tourism due to the decaying health infrastructure.

It’s no news that there is a shortage of Nigerian medical doctors living and working throughout Nigeria. The medical brain drains continue to exacerbate the shortage of Medical Doctors, indirectly causes adverse effects on all health outcomes especially maternal and child health in rural/low-resource communities.

According to the former health minister, Isaac Folorunso Adewole there is one doctor per 5,000 people in Nigeria compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of one per 600 people. There are 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN); over half practice outside the country.

In a 2017 poll by Nigeria Health watch and NOIPolls, one of the major push factors for Medical doctors is poor salaries and emoluments. Thus, the promise to pay young doctors to stay in rural areas is in line to solve one of the major problems in Nigeria’s health sector but unfortunately, the drain continues.

Recently, there was a report about an Abuja-based consulting firm recruiting medical doctors to work in Saudi Arabia. Reacting to the news, the president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi said “Everybody is free to do whatever he/she wants. The government has not fulfilled its promises to the health sector. Those who stay behind are only doing so because of patriotism, not as if there is any benefit or something.

He said, “This is not the first time they are organising such recruitment. This was also done in 2018. They held one in Lagos and another in Abuja.

“Lots of doctors are coming out tomorrow (August 24, 2021). It is not about being an Islamic country; it is about conditions of service. As a Christian, if it means I have to go to an Islamic country to get better conditions of service, then I will go.”

Okhuaihesuyi also told CNN that poor working conditions had contributed to the mass exit of Nigerian healthcare workers, who seek better-paying jobs overseas. Medical experts have said that the exodus of Nigerian doctors is going to get worse.

In 2021, NARD had a strike that lasted for about 60 days. The NARD declared the strike action on July 30 at its National Executive Council meeting with the theme ‘The Nigerian doctor, an endangered species: grappling with a pandemic, poor workplace infrastructure, and security threats.’ It’s quite sad that Nigeria's pandemic response will be greatly affected by NARD's indefinite strike.

Two years later, the Buhari-led administration has not been able to tackle the medical brain drain crisis that needs to be quickly resolved given the rising population and the increasing demand for health care services. We rate this a Promise Broken.