Nigeria Develops National Policy to Address Mass Migration of Healthcare Workers

Nigeria faces severe healthcare worker shortage, prompting new policy to address migration and improve access to affordable care for its 220 million citizens.

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Quadri Adejumo
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Nigeria Develops National Policy to Address Mass Migration of Healthcare Workers

Nigeria Develops National Policy to Address Mass Migration of Healthcare Workers

Nigeria is facing a severe shortage of healthcare workers, with only 55,000 out of 90,000 registered doctors remaining to serve a population of nearly 220 million. In response to this crisis, the government has developed a new national policy aimed at addressing the widespread migration of healthcare professionals.

The policy seeks to provide incentives for healthcare workers, especially those in rural and underserved areas, and establish agreements with countries where professionals are migrating to enable mutual recruitment and support. It also aims to assist healthcare professionals from the diaspora in their efforts to return to Nigeria.

The migration of healthcare workers, particularly young doctors and nurses, has severely impacted the healthcare sector in Nigeria, resulting in a deficiency of staff in many hospitals. Only around 45% of licensed doctors in Nigeria renewed their licenses in 2023, further exacerbating the problem.

To address the cost of living crisis, the government has raised salaries for government workers, including those in the health, education, and security sectors, by 25% to 35%, backdated to January. The country is currently experiencing its worst cost of living crisis in nearly three decades, with inflation reaching 33.20%, the highest in 28 years.

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) president, Uche Ojinmah, has called on the federal government to set up a health sector development bank to encourage local pharmaceutical companies and decrease the importation of drugs. Ojinmah emphasized the importance of expediting the health insurance program to help Nigerians access affordable healthcare, as about 70% of the population relies on out-of-pocket expenditures, leading to worsening poverty and insecurity.

Why this matters: The mass migration of healthcare workers in Nigeria has led to a severe shortage of medical professionals, compromising the country's ability to provide adequate healthcare to its citizens. The development of a national policy to address this issue is vital for improving the healthcare system and ensuring that all Nigerians have access to quality medical care.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Pate, acknowledged that the devaluation of the foreign exchange is affecting manufacturers' ability to buy raw materials and equipment, which is impacting healthcare delivery. The government has met with health workers to discuss concerns regarding pay grade adjustments and the state of the health workforce, and has launched guidelines on safe motherhood, targeting at least seven million pregnant women and six million newborns annually.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigeria faces severe healthcare worker shortage, only 55K of 90K doctors remain.
  • Govt developing policy to incentivize workers, enable mutual recruitment, assist diaspora.
  • Migration of young doctors and nurses severely impacts healthcare, only 45% renewed licenses.
  • Govt raises salaries by 25-35% to address cost of living crisis, inflation at 33.20%.
  • NMA calls for health sector development bank, expedited health insurance to improve access.