A professor of medicine and chairman, Association of Colleges of Medicine of Nigeria, Folashade Ogunsola, has said Nigeria needs no fewer than 237,000 medical doctors to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.
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) adding that most of the trained medical doctors have strayed into other professions or traveled out.
“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 like 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.
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.