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Why Bida needs federal medical varsity, by Niger lawmaker

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The member representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Saidu Abdullahi, has advanced reason for sponsoring a bill for establishment of Federal University of Medicine and Health Science, Bida.

The piece of legislation seeks to bring into reality the institution for the purposes of providing qualitative education in medicine, health sciences and related matters.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday in Abuja, Abdullahi pointed out that of the 1,335 health facilities in Niger State, only two were tertiary, 21 being secondary while the rest 1,312 (representing 99 per cent), are primary healthcare centres (PHCs).

According to him, 1,095 (83 per cent) of these PHCs facilities are publicly owned while the remaining 217 (17 per cent) are privately owned.

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He explained that the North Central state had a doctor-population ratio of 1:9,000, far below the national average of 1:4,000 population and the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 1:600 recommendation for effective healthcare delivery.

Abdullahi went on: “The Medical and dental council of Nigeria is said to have registered over 70,000 medical and dental practitioners in the country, 50 per cent of whom are said to be practising abroad; and over 70 per cent of the remaining are practicing in cities and economically sound states, leaving states like Niger with about 400 doctors to cater for her entire population.

“This may be one of the reasons why the World Health Organisation ranked Nigeria’s health system 187 out of the 190 sampled countries of the world.”

He regretted that the only two existing universities in the state – the Federal University of Technology, Minna and the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University, Lapai – do not run courses in medicine and health-related areas.

The lawmaker added: “The huge competition for health workers’ training placements in Nigerian universities leaves much to be desired, as the number of healthcare professional candidates from Niger State considered for admission continues to dwindle.”

He observed that the development was impacting adversely on the “emotional, mental and financial strength of prospective students and doctors seeking training in the existing universities.”

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Abdullahi pointed out that the “desire to create the University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Bida, Niger State through a legislation of the National Assembly stemmed from the need to provide more opportunities and level-playing ground for all to gain admission into Nigerians universities to specialise in medicine and related disciplines but most importantly, to address medical workforce shortage and mal-distribution in the state, region and the country.”

He clarified that the bill, which was classified into 30 sections, provides for the establishment of the university as an institution with the status of a public study and research centre as well as a vocational facility and a corporate body that can sue and be sued.

The legislator expressed hope that the proposed ivory tower would benefit Nigerians residing in the region and ensure the prevention and treatment of disease outbreaks in the North East and environs.

Speaking on the general principle of the bill, Abdullahi added that the move address the acute shortage of trained and specialised healthcare workers in Nigeria.

The proposed law, which recently passed second reading on the floor of the green chamber, has since been referred to the House Committee on Health Institutions for further legislative action.

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