Nigerian doctors gathered at a hotel in Abuja, and another in Lagos, to take a test conducted by the Saudi Arabian health ministry, in a massive turn out.
Weeks before the attempt by Saudi Arabia to lure Nigerian doctors, dozens had sat the regular Professional Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exams at the British Council. Once they pass, it will enable them to work in the UK.
Estimates show that more than 2000 doctors have left the country in the past years. The doctors interviewed blame it to the low budget allocated to the health sector which is just 4%.
Reasons for emigrating include better facilities and work environment, higher salaries, career progression and an improved quality of life.
There are 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN); over half practise outside the country.
“Nine in every 10 doctors are considering work opportunities outside Nigeria. And it is projected to keep rising as doctors continue to face systemic challenges,” said NOIPolls’ Nwangwu. “I actually think [Nigeria] is already at the state of emergency with the availability of medical doctors.”
The country’s worsening health sector also grapples with strikes by health workers.
The government is often in conflict with the Nigerian Medical Association, an umbrella union of doctors, over working conditions. The union argues that government officials fail to stick to agreements, leading to industrial action.