Medical bodies in the country have reacted to the fresh development from the United Kingdom about the recruitment of health and social care employers.
Naija News recalls that the United Kingdom announced on Monday that it has placed Nigeria and 53 other countries on the red list of countries that should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers.
This development comes amid a proposed bill in the House of Representatives seeking to impose a five-year compulsory service on doctors as a condition to granting them full practice licences upon graduation.
The proposed bill as gathered is a way to control the issue of brain drain among medical practitioners in the country as statistics have it that Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India, and Pakistan.
However, medical bodies in the country like the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have said the new directive from the UK can not stop doctors from migrating from Nigeria.
The NMA President, Dr Uche Ojinmah, as gathered by Naija News told The Punch that Nigerian doctors migrate to other countries because they are poorly treated by the government.
He stated that “I don’t actually begrudge the UK for recruiting Nigerian doctors because it’s the poor treatment they are getting from Nigeria that’s pushing them away. If the Nigerian government and people place a premium on Nigerians, they obviously won’t migrate.
“It is okay that the UK is placing us on the lower rungs for recruitment but what about the United States of America, Canada, Grenada, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa, Germany, etc?
“Nobody can take away the freedom of movement; it’s a fundamental right. They can only define the terms.
“I know that last year, the MDCN Registrar went to the GMC and the report we got that time was that they discussed how to mitigate the effect of brain drain in Nigeria.
“This is purely speculative but we believe this was part of what was discussed. We can’t confirm that but it is possible.”
Also in his reaction, President NARD, Dr Emeka Orji, insisted that doctors can go to other countries to practise the profession.
Orji, who alleged it might be the federal government who pushed for the restriction advanced that “The truth is that it is not only the UK that Nigerian health workers go to and even with this list, it only means that they will not only be headhunting our health workers. So, that doesn’t mean people can’t apply to work in the UK.
“It’s possible the Nigerian government pushed for this (the restriction) but we have not seen any official release to that effect.
“The government is now complaining that there is a brain drain but we have always known this and we have been talking about it. What is now expected is that government should increase the production capacity so that even when these foreign countries come for the doctors, nurses, and other health workers, you will turn it to an advantage, improve on training, and infrastructure, improve your personnel and fund health, so that you will not be complaining to foreign countries to stop encroaching on your medical workforce. What you should be doing is encouraging it as long as you have enough. That is what India did.”
He called on the Federal Government to improve the working condition of health workers and fund the health sector in order to discourage migration.