The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday moved to check the rising emigration of medical and health professionals from Nigeria to developed countries.
This followed the consideration of a bill for second reading at plenary seeking to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Abeokuta.
Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun (APC -Ogun), in his lead debate said establishment of specialised medical universities have become imperative, given the high demands for medical and health professionals in Nigeria.
He said “Many reports suggest that the number of Doctors, Dentists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, and Bachelor’s Degree-prepared Nurses are not adequate to handle increasing population and healthcare of Nigerians.
“The rising wave of external migration of medical and allied health professionals seeking greener pastures in more developed countries further compound the problem.”
The lawmaker lamented that the mass emigration of required professionals from the country had resulted in the near extinction of some disciplines offered by Nigerian universities.
“Furthermore, some critically needed health professionals such as physical and occupational therapists, medical engineers, psychotherapists, and others are just not adequately produced in the country.
“Indeed, some of the disciplines are on the verge of extinction due to the mass migration of these professionals”, Amosun said.
He warned that unless measures were introduced to check the situation, health indicators may continue to decline in the absence of interventions to tackle the trend.
“More Doctors and health professionals leaving the country has led to a shortage of Nigerian Doctors and specialized health care practitioners.
“This has resulted in a heavy strain and disaffection among those remaining.
” It is equally creating a fast rising personnel deficit in the country’s health sector, as statistics show that there is a ratio of one doctor to one hundred patients especially in our public hospitals”, he said.
The lawmaker, however, expressed optimism that Universities of Medicine and Medical Sciences would provide the chance to train health professionals as they would have flexibility especially for creative program expansion.
Similarly, the Senate also considered a bill seeking to give legal backing to the University of Health Sciences, Otukpo.
The bill was sponsiredy Sen. Abba Moro (PDP – Benue ).
Moro said the bill if eventually passed into law by the 9th Assembly, would address the dearth in admission of students aspiring to study Medicine and Allied Sciences in Nigeria and supply of the needed manpower in the country’s health sector.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the teeming Nigerian population puts enormous strain and stress on the national infrastructure and available Health Personnel.
“The Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, when established, would bridge the gap of the challenges of inadequate health professionals in Nigeria”, the lawmaker said.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bills considered during plenary on Tuesday to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative work, with a directive for it to report back in four weeks.
The Committee is Chaired by Sen. Ahmed Baba Kaita (APC-Katsina ). NAN
However, the Nigerian government and Senate need to address the real need for emigration and brain drain.
REASONS FOR THE DRAIN
Health Professions Council of South Africa and South Africa Medical Association regarding confirm that as at 2nd July 2018, there are 680 Registered Nigerian Doctors in South Africa.
Media reports say about 2,000 doctors have left Nigeria over the past few years.
Doctors have blamed the mass exit on poor working conditions – only four percent of Nigeria’s budget is allocated to health. Reasons for emigrating also include better facilities and work environment, higher salaries, career progression and an improved quality of life.
While the annual healthcare threshold per person in the US is $10,000, in Nigeria it is just $6.
There are 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN); over half practise outside the country.
“Nine in every 10 doctors are considering work opportunities outside Nigeria. And it is projected to keep rising as doctors continue to face systemic challenges,” said NOIPolls’ Nwangwu. “I actually think [Nigeria] is already at the state of emergency with the availability of medical doctors.”