Brain drain: UK restricts recruitment of Nigerian doctors, others

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Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The United Kingdom has introduced a new policy in a bid to restrict the recruitment of doctors from Nigeria and other developing countries. The policy does not, however, bar Nigerian doctors from migrating to the UK.

This is according to a statement by the UK government titled, ‘UK to strengthen its ethical approach to the international recruitment of health and care workers’ on February 25, 2021.

The updated code of practice, which will help to meet UK’s target of delivering 50,000 more nurses by 2024, is expected to affect 47 countries especially Nigeria, which has the third largest number of migrant doctors in the UK.

The list also showed that almost all the countries affected are in Africa.

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They include: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Guinea-Bissau and Haiti.

Some others affected include: Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo Uganda, Vanuatu and Yemen.

The UK said the new policy was in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation.

The statement read in part, “To align with the WHO, the new code refers to the WHO Health Workforce Support and safeguard List, 2020 of 47 countries where active recruitment can’t be undertaken.

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“This replaces the previous UK-held list of 152 countries, and removes confusion which can arise from the UK holding a separate list of countries. UK recruiters are not permitted to actively recruit from these countries unless there is a government to government agreement in place for managed recruitment.”

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The PUNCH reports that there are currently over 8,000 Nigerian trained doctors in the UK, based on statistics obtained from the UK General Medical Council, the government body that maintains the country’s official register of medical practitioners. The PUNCH also observed that at least one Nigerian doctor is recruited in the UK daily.

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The Deputy Director, Human Resources, at the Federal Ministry of Health, Shakuri Kadiri, had also revealed that the Nigerian health sector recorded an increase in the number of doctors seeking migration from 656 in 2014 to 1,551 in 2018.

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The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria also put the total number of registered doctors in Nigeria at 74,543 for the country’s population of about 200 million. This puts the doctor-patient ratio in the country at 1:3,500. This falls far below the WHO’s recommendation of 1:600.

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