The Ogun State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Azim Ashimi, has said the state currently battles a ratio of one doctor to 6,400 patients.
He disclosed that over the past four years, 25 percent of doctors had departed the state to various parts of the country or abroad, and others had retired from service.
In an exclusive interview with PUNCH Healthwise, he pegged the state’s population at over six million people, juxtaposing the figure with 1000 practising doctors in the public and private hospitals in the state.
The NMA’s compilation of active doctors in Ogun state, revealed that the doctor-to-patient ratio in the state drastically falls below the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 1:600 doctor-to-patient ratio for member countries to attain the healthcare target under the Sustainable Development Goals.
Statistics reveal that about 1,197 Nigerian-trained doctors relocated to the United Kingdom as of May 29, 2023. With the current statistics, Nigeria is headed towards becoming the UK’s second-largest pool of foreign-trained doctors, taking over from Pakistan.
Mr Ashimi bemoaned the worsening mortality rate across hospitals, adding that public hospitals had to cut down on their intake of patients to cater adequately to patients’ needs given the hospitals’ limited manpower and resources.
He added, “Arguably, every agile healthcare practitioner will likely leave. Many are planning to in the coming months while some are not thinking of it immediately. However, experience has shown that many who left recently did not plan to do so in the immediate past until something triggered them to do so. It is therefore believed that those who are not immediately planning to japa now will do so when a trigger strong enough is evoked
“These triggers from experience include embarrassing events like not being able to meet up with children’s school fees, taking care of an aged parent, inability to own a home and being molested by landlords, and not being able to care for medical bills of loved ones. All of these would paint such a health worker as a failure.”
He also mentioned other triggers such as the insecurity rate of health workers on duty and kidnapping, among others.
To check the migration of doctors, Mr Ashimi noted the government would have to prioritise the healthcare sector by making improvements of equipment in the hospitals, tackling insecurity in healthcare institutions, and enhancing basic infrastructure.
He further said that the government had to consider improving the hospitals’ environment and ensuring the universality of health insurance as well as making certain that doctors were adequately compensated.