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Checking Claims Made By the Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire

CONTEXT: Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has claimed that there are enough doctors in Nigeria. During a press conference, he made the assertion in Abuja on Tuesday, August 23, 2022. He said,

“…We have heard complaints of doctors who are now leaving the system, but there are actually enough doctors in the system because we are producing up to 2,000 or 3,000 doctors every year in the country and the number leaving is less than 1,000.”

CLAIM 1: Does Nigeria have enough doctors?


VERIFICATION: Checks by our partners at Daily Trust revealed that data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 reported that three doctors were available to attend to 10,000 patients in the country. The recent report by WHO revealed that the ratio has increased to 10,000 people for four (4) doctors, signalling an increase in the doctor-patient ratio. However, WHO recommends 1 (one) doctor per 600 patients as the best doctor-patient ratio. The report captures African countries with better doctors-patient ratios than Nigeria, including Mauritius, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. It also captures African countries with fewer doctors than Nigeria, including Angola, Kenya, Chad, Mali, etc.

Also, in an address by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) President, Innocent Ujah, during the virtual eighth biennial and scientific conference and annual general meeting of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Kaduna state chapter, the president noted,

“the current doctor to population ratio in the country is about one doctor to between 4,000 and 5,000 population. This falls short of the one doctor to 600 population as recommended by the World Health Organisation. This means that we need about 303,333 medical doctors now, and at least 10,605 new doctors annually to bridge the manpower gap in the health sector,” he said.

Another survey conducted by the Nigeria Health Watch and NOI Polls showed that Nigeria has a deficit of qualified doctors and needs at least 237,000 doctors to ensure the population’s health needs are adequately catered for.

CLAIM 2: Number of doctors leaving Nigeria each year less than 1,000?


VERIFICATION: Estimation points out that no fewer than 2,000 doctors leave Nigeria yearly, with at least 8,983 Nigerian-trained medics currently working with the British National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

The General Medical Council of the United Kingdom website reveals that Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK, coming behind only India and Pakistan. It also shows that the number of foreign doctors working in the UK shows that no fewer than 727 medical doctors trained in Nigeria relocated to the United Kingdom alone and licensed between December 2021 and May 2022.

Recently, data from the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, revealed that the total number of doctors that have migrated to the UK in two years is nearly 9,000, while the total in the United States is about 3,895. This means that about 6,447 Nigerian doctors relocated to the UK and the US in each year.

CLAIM 3: Is Nigeria producing up to 2,000 or 3,000 doctors each year?

Verdict: Insufficient Evidence

VERIFICATION: Last year, the president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Innocent Ujah commented on the brain drain in the health sector hinted that the nation produced between 3,000 and 3,500 doctors annually. He said,

“…This is particularly disturbing because Nigeria only graduates about 3,000 to 3,500 medical doctors across medical schools in the country annually.”

We do not have sufficient evidence to independently confirm this claim as no database keeps track of the number of doctors produced annually in the country.

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