Medical brain drain: 1,197 Nigerian doctors 'Japa' to UK since May


Since May 29, 2023, up to now, approximately 1,197 doctors trained in Nigeria have ‘Japa’ (migrated) to the United Kingdom.


This surge places Nigeria on track to surpass Pakistan in becoming the second-largest provider of foreign-trained doctors in the UK, following India, which currently holds the highest position.


These statistics are sourced from the General Medical Council (GMC) register, the official record of UK medical practitioners.


During the period from May 29 to December 1, 2023, around 1,197 Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed to practice in the UK, bringing the total count of licensed Nigerian doctors in the country to 12,198.


This count excludes doctors trained in Nigeria who now work in other nations.


Within various medical specializations, the numbers reveal 73 Nigerian-trained doctors in anaesthetics and Intensive Care Medicine, 61 in emergency medicine, 241 in general medicine, 207 in obstetrics and gynecology, 17 in occupational medicine, 16 in ophthalmology, 164 in pediatrics, and 50 in pathology.


Additionally, there are 35 in public health, 357 in psychiatry, 29 in psychiatry and 135 in surgery.


The escalating migration of medical professionals has raised concerns, particularly within the Nigerian Medical Association, which fears the likelihood of Nigeria needing to import doctors in the future due to the high rate of brain drain.


The figures exemplify a significant increase in the migration trend: 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK in 2015, which surged to 279 in 2016, 475 in 2017, and escalated to 1,347 in 2019.


Even in 2020, a year marked by GMC operational closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, 833 doctors migrated.


The trend persisted with 932 doctors leaving in 2021.


Professor Emem Bassey, Chairman of the Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, highlighted the growing concerns about brain drain, noting that not only are professionals leaving for the UK but also for other African nations.


Countries like Sierra Leone and Gambia are attracting specialists from Nigeria with significantly higher wages, creating a major crisis in Nigeria’s healthcare sector, with professionals across various medical disciplines departing the country in large numbers.

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