Student Doctors Oppose Bill Seeking To Make Them Work In Nigeria For Five Years Post Graduation

The Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA) has opposed a bill seeking to mandate medical and dental practitioners to practice for five years before attempting to relocate abroad.

The bill — which also says health workers must work for five years before getting full licence — passed the second reading in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson (APC Lagos), the bill seeks to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act 2004, to address the brain drain in the health sector.

There have been concerns in recent times over the relocation of healthcare workers from Nigeria to foreign countries.

Reacting to the proposed legislation, the medical students association said it is “unpatriotic, ill-timed and a breach of the fundamental human right of doctors as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended”.

The association said the bill will end up enslaving trained doctors and paralysing the healthcare sector.

“The search for greener pastures abroad can be reduced by making our land and pasture green, properly equipping our hospitals, better treatment for doctors and the brain drain will be adequately controlled. Rep. Johnson at this point should be steering conversations on medical tourism and not doctor slavery,” the statement reads.

“We firmly believe that this bill is not the solution to the problem of brain drain, and we stand against it in its entirety in the strongest possible terms.”

The association said the lawmakers should instead be focusing on creating an enabling environment that encourages doctors to stay and work in Nigeria.

“The intention behind the sponsorship of this bill does not take into consideration the root causes of brain drain in Nigeria. The issue of brain drain is multifaceted and requires a more comprehensive approach to tackle it,” the students said.

“The lack of infrastructure, inadequate and inappropriate remuneration, and poor working conditions are some of the major factors driving medical professionals away from Nigeria. These issues need to be addressed if we want to attract and retain our healthcare professionals; make our land green.

“We also unequivocally state that this bill will discourage students from pursuing medical education in Nigeria, which will further exacerbate the problem of the shortage of healthcare professionals.

“We call on the sponsor of the bill to withdraw it with immediate effect and seek better ways of finding a lasting solution to the problem of brain drain by consultative collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the health sector coupled with the government’s willingness to address the root causes and underlying issues that drive healthcare professionals away from Nigeria.”

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