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Nigerian Healthcare Exodus: Mass Visa Grants to UK Raise Concerns About Brain Drain

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Medical Practitioners Japa leads to brain drain

CEM REPORT, HEALTH | Nigeria’s healthcare system faces a growing crisis as a significant number of skilled professionals the Japan train for greener pastures abroad. This alarming trend, dubbed “brain drain” by experts, is raising concerns about the future of healthcare services in the nation.

According to the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), a staggering 18,224 visas were issued to Nigerian health workers by the United Kingdom alone in just one year. This data paints a stark picture of the exodus, highlighting the UK as a major destination for departing professionals.

“We are deeply worried about the increasing number of health workers leaving Nigeria,” expressed Kabiru Minjibir, President of MHWUN. “This trend is not sustainable and threatens the quality of healthcare services available to Nigerians.”

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Nurses Take the Lead

MHWUN’s concerns are supported by further statistics. Data from Arise News indicates that Nigeria leads African nations in emigrant health workers. The number of Nigerians granted health and care skilled work visas has skyrocketed by a staggering 215%, reaching a total of 26,715 by the end of 2023.

The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) paints an even more concerning picture. They estimate that a whopping 75,000 nurses have left Nigeria between 2017 and 2023. These skilled professionals have sought opportunities in developed countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Australia.

These numbers were presented at a recent conference in Abuja, where stakeholders convened to discuss the crippling impact of economic challenges on Nigeria’s healthcare system.

Causes and Effects of Brain Drain

The reasons behind this mass exodus are multifaceted. MHWUN President Minjibir pinpoints several critical factors pushing healthcare workers towards the exits.

Poor Working Conditions and Inadequate Facilities: Many healthcare facilities in Nigeria struggle with inadequate resources and outdated equipment. This creates a stressful and often dangerous work environment for medical professionals.

Low Salaries and Remuneration: The current salary structure for healthcare professionals in Nigeria is significantly lower compared to developed countries. This disparity creates a strong financial incentive for skilled workers to seek opportunities abroad.

Staff Shortages and Overwork: The high number of departing workers creates a domino effect. The remaining staff face immense pressure to fill the gaps, leading to burnout and further attrition.

Curbing Brain Drain

Despite the challenges, MHWUN and other healthcare unions are actively seeking solutions to stem the tide. These efforts include:

Engaging with the government to address salary structures, hazard allowances, and overall working conditions.

Advocating for increased funding for the healthcare system.

Pushing for infrastructure improvements in hospitals and clinics.

Emphasizing the importance of research and innovation to create a more dynamic and rewarding work environment for healthcare professionals.

Read Also: Dangote To Establishe Trading Arm to Bypass Global Giants for Mega-Refinery

The Road Ahead

The exodus of Nigerian healthcare workers poses a significant threat to the nation’s healthcare system. Reversing this trend will require a multi-pronged approach that addresses the root causes of the problem. By prioritizing funding, improving infrastructure, and offering competitive salaries and benefits, Nigeria can create a more attractive environment for skilled healthcare professionals. Only then can the nation build a stronger and more sustainable healthcare system for its citizens.

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