Dutch surgeons plug brain drain in Nigeria

It’s a busy scene in the operating theatre of the Noma Children Hospital in Sokoto, Nigeria. Flanked by beeping machines, a team of Dutch surgeons has been operating on children with noma for two weeks. While they concentrate on reconstructing ravaged faces, Nigerian doctors look on from the sidelines. Why aren’t they the ones holding the scalpels?

Outside the OR, hospital director Dr Jabo attempts to answer the question. “Many doctors trained in Nigeria go to Europe for advanced training. Often they don’t come back, so we just don’t have enough doctors here.”

[related-articles]Three out of 30
It is a worldwide problem, the brain drain. Well-educated people from the developing world are moving en masse to richer countries.


The global brain drain is causing a shortage of qualified people in developing countries. Europe, the United States and Australia are where people want to live. Strict immigration policies in Western countries ensure that it is mostly well-educated people who get residence permits.

Developing countries are now short on talent. More than 70 percent of their doctors leave Mozambique, Angola and Guinea. Statistics indicate that 14 percent of Nigerian doctors live and work in another country.

Mozambique is the prime example. There, 75 percent of doctors leave the country to work in the West. In Nigeria, the brain drain has resulted in a shortage of doctors. Indirectly, the Nigerian government has caused the problem itself.

“Sokoto State pays for the training of 30 doctors a year in foreign countries. These doctors get the opportunity to specialise and only about three of the 30 actually return.”



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