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  • 29th April, 2022

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      From In Africa

      Number of Medical doctors per population in Africa

      Number of Medical doctors per population in Africa

      There are not enough medical doctors in Africa to meet the health needs of its growing population. The ratio of doctors to patient is a worrisome 1 doctor for 10,000 people, on an average. By 2035, the shortage of doctors will be around 4.3 million.

      The doctor-patient ratio in most African countries is worrying. This crisis in the healthcare industry in Africa is mainly because of a steady decline in the number of doctors in constituent countries.

      Overview of Africa’s Healthcare Sector

      Africa’s population is exploding at a year-on-year rate of 2.5%, especially over the last two decades. By 2050, it will reach 2.4 billion despite the continent accounting for 25% of the global disease burden and being served by only 2% of the global healthcare workforce.

      According to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) NHWA Data Platform, Nigeria has the highest number of medical doctors in Africa. With 74, 543 medical doctors to cater for a population of over 206 million; its doctor to patient ratio is 1:2,763.5. Algeria, in second, has 72,604 medical doctors catering to a population of 44 million; a doctor to patient ratio of 1:606. South Africa is third on the list with 46,393 medical doctors to attend to the health needs of 61 million people. South Africa’s doctor to patient ratio is 1:1,314.9.

      DR Congo and Ethiopia complete the five countries with the highest number of medical doctors. DR Congo has 31,546 medical doctors for it 95.24 million people with the ratio of a doctor attending to 3,019.1 patients. Ethiopia has 12,174 medical doctors to cater for the health needs of 117 million people; a doctor to patient ratio of 1:9,610.

      With the increasing population, there will be a rising demand for excellent quality and effortlessly accessible healthcare services to attain universal health coverage (UHC). The UHC suggests people will employ the health services according to their requirement without suffering from financial adversity. The target to attain UHC by 2030 is part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.

      Growing Demand for Medical Professionals in Africa

      There are in total of 57 countries with an acute shortage of healthcare workers; these countries have a lack of 2.4 million doctors and nurses. In Africa, there are 2.3 healthcare workers per 1000 population.

      Regions of sub-Saharan Africa have an acute shortage of healthcare workers, with just two doctors and 11 nursing personnel per 10,000 patients. This ratio, in comparison with 19 doctors and 49 nursing personnel in the Americas and with 32 and 78, respectively, in Europe, is daunting.


      A robust medical sector is the backbone of any country. The healthcare crisis in Africa can be combated effectively by increasing the opportunities for medical professionals through government initiatives. Shortage of doctors has adverse effects on how many people have access to health care, and creating excellent opportunities for them will gradually decrease the deficit.

      • Published: 29th April, 2022



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