Kehinde Lawal

A UK-based Nigerian doctor, Dr Harvey Olufunmilayo, has decried the increasing number of Nigerian doctors seeking greener pastures abroad. Olufunmilayo, who practices in Leeds, said about 1,000 Nigerian doctors passed the Plab1 examination in March 2018 to enable them practice in the UK.

Olufunmilayo stated this during an interview with THISDAY recently. He said four million Nigerian patients would be denied access to a doctor should the 1,000 doctors leave Nigeria.

The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) had in January 2018 said that there were 4,000 patients to one doctor in Nigeria, describing the trend as unacceptable.

He said, “In March, about 1,500 doctors wrote the Plab1 exam to work in the UK and about 1,000 passed. In a country where one doctor cares for about 4,000 patients; losing 1,000 doctors means four million Nigerians will find it hard to see a doctor. We are playing with fire as a nation.

“This analysis is based solely on the March 2018 Plab Exams alone. The same exam is written twice a year in Nigeria. And with more hardship, more doctors will be writing the same exam by November. That is just for the UK alone, we are yet to talk of those going to other countries like USA or Canada.

“We have a big problem on our hands. There is a big fire burning and everyone is looking away thinking all is well. We largely have under-equipped hospitals with underpaid/overworked staff and overpopulated patients. Now with more health professionals’ exit, what will happen?”

He said the country had decided to wait until hospitals in the country turn to museums with out-dated equipment before it takes action. “We don’t even have professionals to man the out-dated facilities to help our dying patients. It may be too late by the time we realise the grave danger being done with the exit of our medical workers from the country, Olufunmilayo stated, adding, “I was having a chat with a younger colleague friend preparing for the exam. She’s part of a WhatsApp group that is already full to the brim – with 256 doctors preparing to take the same exams to leave the country. And she said she knows at least two of such full groups.”

He said with doctors working on their exit out of the country, those who will be affected will not only be the poor, adding that even the rich has relatives who at the end may not be able to get healthcare because of lack of medical workers.