“Nigeria needs 237,000 medical doctors but has only 35,000”

Photo used to illustrate the story
Photo used to illustrate the story

Nigeria needs no fewer than 237,000 medical doctors to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standard, a professor of medicine and chairman, Association of Colleges of Medicine of Nigeria, Folashade Ogunsola, has said.

Mrs. Ogunsola disclosed this at the opening of a three-day Capacity Development Programme for Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Academic Staff in Nigerian Universities organised by National Universities Commission on Monday in Abuja.

According to her, WHO’s ratio for any country to have enough doctors for its population is 1:600 (one doctor of every 600 persons).

“We will need about 237, 000 medical doctors and we have about 35,000 working in the country today.

“We have trained more than that, many of them have left the country while many others are in different professions — banking, music and so on.

“Medicine is about life; it is the duty of the medical schools to produce people with competences; skills to manage patients.

“Assuming no doctor leaves this country after being trained; going by the number coming from our medical schools every year, it will take us about 100 years to have the number of doctors we need.’’

Mrs. Ogunsola, who lectures at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said that aside that number, the quality of doctors was crucial.

According to her, medical schools have quotas at present — the number of students they can admit because they can only train with the facilities they have.

The professor said that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and NUC were interested in the quality of doctors produced in the country.

Visualization by @Orodata
Visualization by @Orodata

The council makes sure that the people it registers as medical doctors have been adequately trained; NUC makes sure that universities churn out the kind of doctors that we need.

“Right now, we have quotas and for that quota to change, we have to re-think how we are training medical doctors and how we are funding our medical schools.

“Medical school is not all about lectures; the minute they leave, lives are entrusted in their hands.

“Government really has to think about how to fund medical schools in the face of dwindling resources so that they are not left at the vagaries of universities.’’

According to her, to stem the tide of exodus of medical doctors, there is the need to have a policy on healthcare in order to detach politics from healthcare.

She said that globally, a doctor is the head of the medical team, adding that it did not mean that others were subjugates as they all must work together.

Mr. Ogunsola advocated a joint training of doctors and other medical workers at medical schools so that they learn how to work together from the onset.

She also identified lack of job satisfaction as another reason why doctors exit the profession and called for a review of working conditions and upgrade of hospitals.

Earlier, Prof. Julius Okojie, NUC’s Executive Secretary, said the essence of the workshop was to revisit the Bench Mark Academic Standard (BMAS) for medicine.

He said the workshop aimed at fashioning out ways to improve the skills and competences of medical doctors by improving the teaching and practice of medicine.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 25 colleges of medicine were represented at the workshop.



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  • Mamman

    945 doctors per state? In Africa? It’s commendable. Maybe the vast majority refuse to work where they are needed. Otherwise, it’s a great achievement by any standard. We are just masters in lamentation that is why we hardly see the positives.

    • DanielOsazuwa

      That will be the equivalent of 4900 Nigerians to a Doctor. You want us to celebrate that? Only mediocre celebrate mediocrity.

      • Mamman

        So,Mr Negative,you assume that all the 4900 people will be sick at the same time? You also fail to factor in preventive health care, alternative medicine and those humans who have a naturally endowed and exceptional immune system. You hardly hear them fall sick in their entire life. The last time I consulted a doctor was about 20 yrs ago. See? Be positive instead of lamenting about everything. What we need,as she rightly pointed out,is to improve on the standard of education and upgrade hospitals by making them as modern as we possibly can. PERIOD

  • Höly Wähala

    “Assuming no doctor leaves this country after being trained; going by the number coming from our medical schools every year, it will take us about 100 years to have the number of doctors we need.’’ – Prof. Folashade Ogunsola

    Maybe, the NUC should reconsider abolishing the crass quota system needed to gain admission into certain critical disciplines in our universities, and allow those with higher grades to be admitted to study medicine rather than carrying everybody along. All those regions who require only to score 80pts to be admitted into higher institutions should also be restricted to studying what their brain capacities are able to absolve. Given the above-quoted comment by Prof. Ogunsola the country will never achieve the WHO numbers even if given eternity. The solution is easy, more emphasis should be placed on core science subjects and star students encouraged to study medicine while olodos should be directed to arts and single-honor courses. Shikena!

  • Fuzio

    Are these doctors going to fall from heaven? When Boko Haram are there in the NE destroying everything that looks like a school, what do you expect?

  • All Trust

    Dreaming and dreaming and dreaming. We can only achieve close to this WHO recommendation in this country if we become capable of ”making impossibility possible”. Even Prof. Folashade Ogunsola did not take into population growth; all things being equal, the 100 years she estimated is little. Who are even the policy makers? You can imagine how difficult and how defeatist it is if Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, medical professor and a vital staff of a federal institution, and automatically a policy maker, still expects ”policy makers” to come and do the work. Is Prof. Folashade Ogunsola not part of those responsible for killing healthcare and medical practice in Nigeria?

  • Omotolaaraujo

    No one wants to work in the medical junk yards of Nigeria.

  • Haroldl Clayton

    The government of Cuba trains tens of thousands of doctors yet African countries collectively can’t train the requisite number of health care providers because of : (1) obsolete curriculum where physicians take ten courses in general, organic, and physical chemistry along with classical mechanics , wave mechanics , optics and calculus with analysis with ODEs/PDEs which are for STEM students , unless they wish to become physician/scientist other than that 5 years of formal training should be sufficient , and (2) depending on western nations to make up for health care provider shortages due a lack of emphasis on governmental role in medical infrastructure that any sovereign nation/people need ! You won’t improve life for anyone unless one take on the attitude of a servant that serves the need of people first the rewards will surely follow !