Why are Nigerian hospitals losing their staff
A current buzzword in Nigeria yes Japan, a Yoruba verb meaning to run, flee or escape. So many Nigerians, especially doctors and nurses, are seeking jobs abroad that politicians are lamenting “Japan syndrome” – and have been debating ways to stop the outflow. No one has an answer yet.
Meanwhile hospitals are losing qualified staff at an alarming rate, as many doctors and nurses head to America, Britain, Canada, the Gulf states and elsewhere in search of pay and conditions. better work. In the last eight years, by one count, at least 5,600 doctors have left Britain, leaving just 24,000 registered doctors to serve a growing population of around 220m. The Association of Resident Doctors fears that 85% of those left behind plan to emigrate too.
BPs complaining that countries such as America, Canada and Saudi Arabia, which often organize recruitment campaigns for doctors in Nigerian cities, are in fact taking advantage of the country’s highly subsidized medical education system at the cost of the people who are suffering in Nigeria. The government has been half-heartedly scrambling for clever ways to get medical professionals to stay. A parliamentary bill proposed that new doctors would be legally required to stay in Nigeria for at least five years after qualifying. Despite the doctors’ threat to go on strike if this was implemented, the government backed off.
Thousands of other talented Nigerians are trying to leave. Britain offers a “global talent” visa that is initially valid for five years and issues thousands of student visas. The recipients often do not return home. Many of the less fortunate strike out across the Sahara desert, placing their lives in the hands of smugglers and traffickers to take them on perilous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Some drown, or join Arab slaves in Libya or in brutal detention camps throughout northern Africa.
In addition, those who succeed abroad bring in a large flow of remittances. Last year, they repatriated around $20bn, as well as $148bn in the previous seven years: far more than they reached in foreign direct investment.
In the short term, the desire to leave is too strong for governments to stop. All told, 73% of Nigerians in 2021 wanted to go, according to the Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey, which was up 41 percentage points on the previous one, in 2019. With corruption and insecurity rampant corporate, annual inflation at 23%, and 63% of Nigerian adults were considered “multidimensionally poor”, it is not surprising that the Japan The syndrome is stronger than ever.■