Nigerian doctors abroad returning home

Nigerian doctors abroad returning home

Postby Richard Akindele » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:49 am

Something Nigeria lacks, is a sufficient number of quality medical doctors. In general, medical training is the same everywhere in terms of academic subjects.

Every doctor takes the basic classes such as biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, genetics, pharmacology, etc. However, the availability of expensive equipments sets foreign trained doctors apart from doctors trained locally in Nigerian institutions.

A doctor trained overseas is more likely to have superior knowledge, owing to his exposure to modern medical equipments. This is evidenced by the fact that the affluent in Nigeria travel abroad for major medical care.

Without a doubt, if Nigerian doctors resident abroad could return to Nigeria to serve the local community, our nation would be better off in healthcare.

However, how realistic is it for a medical doctor to return to Nigeria? Let's examine the facts.

A doctor's 10 years of education (12 years if that doctor is a specialist) is very expensive. In the USA, most medical students take out loans to pay for medical school and end up in debt after graduation. By the end of 4 years, a typical medical student is in debt to the tune of $150,000 - $250,000. This sum has to be paid back over time, with roughly 8% annual interest on any outstanding balance.

If the student keeps the loan for ten years, he'd be paying about $3,000/month, and would have paid about $370,000 back on a $250,000 loan. These numbers are massive.

Of course, doctors get paid well in the USA. But imagine such a doctor returning to Nigeria to get a job. He would be on the hook for the huge medical school debt, while earning a tenth of what he could be earning in America.

One way around the low pay dilemma in Nigeria of course, is for a doctor to establish his own medical practice. However, a good hospital is defined by how much modern equipments it has.


Today's hi-tech medical equipments usually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a piece.

For example, modern doctors need endoscopy equipment in hospitals and clinics. These are generally flexible tubes with a camera on one end. The equipment can be connected to a computer for analysis, recording, etc. To use the equipment, a small cut is made on the patient's skin, through which the small camera is inserted into the body for diagnosing any manner of internal medical conditions. This eliminates the need for large surgical incisions, and ultimately unnecessary hospital stays. The cost of such endoscopy equipments start from $500,000 and up.



A disease such as DiGeorge Syndrome requires a $15,000 ventilator. Clearly, an equipment like this is outside the price range of a typical Nigerian patient. So a doctor practicing in Nigeria, is invariably precluded from treating DiGeorge Syndrome, no matter how experienced he or she is in that area.



Another example is that, the current and most widely-used CT scanner model costs around $1 million brand new. Any hospital with such equipments is likely to charge an arm and a leg to the average consumer, if it hopes to recoup it's costs anytime soon.



In general, only major medical centers with shared resources can justify investment in the multi-million dollar purchases of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mega-voltage linear accelerators, lithotripters, etc.



These are questions that are at the root of the decision to return home or not.

Unless a doctor decides to return home purely for altruistic reasons, he is better off staying where he is paid the most for services rendered.

Until that day when the average annual salary of a typical Nigerian is $30,000+, and therefore able to pay for decent medical care, chances are that the plea for Nigerian medical doctors to return home would continue to fall on dear ears.
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Postby fw12 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:56 pm

Get our infrastructure right first, then you won't have to ask doctors before they return home.

Doctors abroad are used to electricity, water, civil law enforcement officers, good roads, broadband Internet. They are used to being paid a salary weekly or bi-weekly without fail. Doctors abroad work in hospital that are well-equipped.

If doctors return home, will affluent Nigerians patronize them, or will they still continue to fly abroad for treatment?

Nigerians love to put the cart before the horse. Take care of all of the problems above first, then watch as doctors return home of their own volition.

An unpatriotic politician who pillages the nations treasures should not be calling on doctors to be patriotic. Long story short, practice what you preach.
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Postby tadcrawford » Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:35 am

Thanks for sharing such a nice topic liked reading it.
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Postby collin2 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:14 am

An unpatriotic politician who pillages the nations treasures should not be calling on doctors to be patriotic. Long story short, practice what you preach.
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