Friday, 22nd September 2023

Brain drain: Reps move to curtail exodus of doctors

By Adamu Abuh (Abuja) and Sunday Aikulola (Lagos)
07 April 2023   |   5:24 am
The House of Representatives, yesterday, took a significant step to curtail the mass exodus of medical practitioners seeking greener pastures abroad.

[FILES] Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. Photo/FACEBOOK/SPEAKERGBAJA

Presidency stresses need for conducive environment in health sector

The House of Representatives, yesterday, took a significant step to curtail the mass exodus of medical practitioners seeking greener pastures abroad.

A billed aimed at achieving the goal scaled second reading on the floor of the House presided by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila. The proposed legislation, particularly, stipulates that qualified doctors would only be granted full licences after they had worked for a minimum of five years in the country.

The bill is part of measures to halt the increasing number of medics leaving Nigeria for other countries. Entitled ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to mandate any Nigeria-trained Medical or Dental Practitioner to Practise in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a full licence by the Council to make quality health services available to Nigeria and for Related Matters (HB.2130)’, the amendment bill was sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson (Lagos, APC).

Johnson told the House that it was only fair for medical practitioners, who enjoyed tax-payers’ subsidies on their training, to “give back to the society” by working for a minimum number of years in Nigeria before exporting their skills abroad.

Majority of lawmakers supported the bill, though a number of them called for flexibility and options in the envisaged law. One member, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, opposed the bill on the ground that it was more like enslavement, as it ties a doctor down for five years in Nigeria, post-graduation, before seeking employment in a foreign country. However, a majority voice vote passed the bill for second reading.

MEANWHILE, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, has stressed the need for conducive environment for the nation’s healthcare workers.

Speaking during the commissioning of six elevators at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), yesterday, she noted the expediency of every health worker to have modern equipment to work.

To her, no matter the knowledge, expertise and experience of medical personnel, if the environment is not conducive, they will not deliver optimally.

“So, the equipment must be state-of-the-art. That is the difference between us and developed countries,” she observed. Orelope-Adefulire also promised the teaching hospital 10 incubators, 10 phototherapy machines, two additional elevators and two new theatres.

She further acknowledged the consultant, former Provost, College of Medicine University of Lagos (UNILAG), Oluwole Atoyebi, for his invaluable contribution in the implementation of the elevator projects.

In his speech, Acting Chief Medical Director (CMD), LUTH, Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, said since 1962, the institution had been training medical and paramedical personnel in the country and abroad. He also noted significant increase in budgetary allocations.

“Since 2019, our capital budgetary allocation has increased by about 900 per cent. I have no doubt that should this increase be sustained, our tertiary hospitals of the 21st century will be comparable to any hospital in the world. In 2022, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs donated 300 solar-powered street lights to LUTH,” he said.

Speaking further, he disclosed that Prof. Atoyebi approached Orelope-Adefulire for help to renovate some of the ageing facilities, and after due consideration, it was decided that LUTH be given six elevators to complement already existing ones.