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NMA 'Nigeria is suffering a huge deficit of doctors'

Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) estimated that there is a huge deficit of doctors in the country.

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Nurses attending the patients in Kaduna, Nigeria play

Nurses attending the patients in Kaduna, Nigeria

(Voice of America)

Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) estimated that there is a huge deficit of doctors in the country.

Kayode Obembe, the president of NMA in a meeting held at Lagos recently made this revelation.  He estimated there is one doctor for every 6,000 patients in Nigeria — a ratio far and above World Health Organization recommendations.

And many of Nigeria’s medical school graduates go overseas, he said. Those that stay in the country tend to live in cities, not in the rural areas where they also are needed.

The NMA called for the government to levy a tax on cigarettes, alcohol and cellphone credits. Obembe said that money could pay for a national health insurance plan so poor people can afford preventative medical care.

Read: Lawmakers to ensure efficient health care delivery

Samuel Olomakan, who is a doctor in the northern city of Kaduna teaches at a local medical school. He said doctors in Nigeria are poorly paid and hospitals lack proper equipment. Many doctors decide they would rather work in another country.

Olomakan said even though some people want to be doctors, however, the high cost of education and training keeps many people from going to medical school.

We are calling the federal government to help us, to be given admission as much as possible so that the doctors, the numbers of doctors in Nigeria will increase, and all these challenges we are facing will be reduced,” he said.

Nigeria is suffering from dangerous endemic diseases. The health care centres are lacking proper infrastructural facilities. The deficit of medical practitioners now is alarming.

Coming to the health insurance, free health care is provided and financed for all citizens, by government through a special health insurance scheme for government employees and private firms entering contracts with private health care providers. However, there are few people who fall within the three instances.

Read: Gov. Badaru commends traditional leaders on polio eradication

In May 1999, the government created the National Health Insurance Scheme, the scheme encompasses government employees, the organized private sector and the informal sector. Legislative wise, the scheme also covers children under five, permanently disabled persons and prison inmates. In 2004, the administration of Obasanjo further gave more legislative powers to the scheme with positive amendments to the original 1999 legislative act.

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