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‘Why Bill Trying To Prevent Doctors From Travelling Abroad Will Fail’

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The Senate committee chairman on health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe has given a break down on why  the bill preventing Nigerian-trained medical or dental practitioners from leaving Nigeria until after 5 years of practicing in the country will fail.

Naija News reports that a bill sponsored by Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson proposed that doctors and dental practitioners should have their licences withheld to prevent them from leaving the country within  five years of being qualified.

According to Johnson, this will help to curb the mass exodus of doctors from the country. The bill scaled second reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Speaking about the issue on Saturday, Oloriegbe  in a series of tweets, said the sponsor of the bill clearly lacks understanding of how medical licences work.

The Senator who is a doctor himself gave reasons why Johnson’s strategy to address the challenge of brain drain in the health sector cannot work.

This factors responsible for brain drain are multifaceted and the mere denial of full practice license to medical practitioners as contained in the proposal will never resolve and may even aggravate them.

“b) What sort of license will be awarded to a fully trained doctor instead of a full license to practise under the proposal?

“*c) Is there going to be a limit in the doctor’s scope of practice, and to what extent are the limits during the five years waiting period? And we need to establish why we are putting such limits; is it for lack of skills, or political expediency?

“d) What happens after the five years of denial of rights to practise?

“*e) Consequently, how will this law advance the quality of clinical services, education, and research in any system, let alone, a crippled one like ours?”

The Senator advised that resolving the challenge of brain drain in the health sector will require the government to address the various factors that make skilled health workers desire to migrate out of Nigeria

“I, therefore recommend that rather than enacting laws that will curtail the rights of the citizens to free movement and seek better opportunities through legal means, we should advocate for an improved system that will be very attractive and make medical practitioners unwilling to travel abroad to seek better living conditions. That is, we have to make our pastures to be greener so that other people’s pastures won’t be tempting to them.

“We can achieve this through the following recommendations:

“i. Medical students could be obliged to choose between paying the standard market rate for their training or opting for government-subsidized training. Quality education in its real sense can’t be free.

“Those who however opted for subsidized training after their qualification would in return be compelled to work in Nigeria for a certain time or refund the subsidies. This is a practice obtainable even in advanced countries such as the UK.

“ii. To achieve the goal of a mandatory work scheme, we can enable a system that will guarantee employment opportunities for medical professionals after their qualification and provide inflation-adjusted living earnings for a few years after graduation on the condition that they stay in Nigeria to practice. Apart from providing attractive remunerations, their work environment and career expectations should also be prioritized. Incorporating both measures should give us satisfactory results.

“iii. Lastly and importantly, we need to improve our health system with sustainable investments to make it conducive for the various health workers to work. We can be assured of better outputs only if what we input is in good condition.”

Chukwuani Victoria is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist who's passionate about storytelling with years of experience in the industry. She holds a BSC in Biology and also obtained a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba, Lagos. She likes to read, research, hang out with her friends and play scrabbles.