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Anti- migration bill will worsen Nigeria’s health crisis, doctors in Diaspora warn FG

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doctors in Diaspora
doctors in Diaspora

vanguardngr.com

Groups of Nigerian doctors working in the Diaspora have petitioned the House of Representatives over the proposed bill to stop doctors and dentists from migrating abroad for greener pastures.

The proposed bill seeks to amend the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) Act to prevent Nigeria-trained medical or dental practitioners from being granted full licences until they have worked for a minimum of five years in the country, as part of measures to address brain drain in the sector.

In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, a copy of which was made available to Vanguard, the medical practitioners said the bill could worsen the nation’s health crisis.

Copies of the letter entitled, ‘Re: A Position Statement from Diaspora Medical Associations – Bill Seeking to Restrict Newly Qualified Medical Doctors and Dentists from Leaving Nigeria’, were sent to the Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, and the Chairman House Committee on Health, Dr Tanko Sununu.

The letter reads in part: “The Diaspora Medical Associations have observed with keen interest, the ongoing deliberations in the Green Chambers of the National Assembly regarding the proposed Bill sponsored by Hon. Ganiyu Johnson, to mandate any Nigerian-trained medical and dental practitioners to practice in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a full license by the Council.

“The bill which purportedly seeks a way to address the adverse effects of brain drain may not be the most effective intervention to resolve the situation. It will be counterproductive and will not achieve its intended goal.

“We recognise the problems posed by the exodus of Nigerian medical professionals from our health system including, but not limited to decreased access to health care services, lack of quality of care, care delivery deserts the inability to adequately enact healthcare and public health policy due to lack of manpower and leadership resource.

“The medical or dental practitioner is the glue that keeps the team functional and the leading force for an effective health care delivery system. Similarly, the medical and dental professional bears the burden for systemic failures resulting in the maladaptive structure fostering stress, undue burden, physical and mental anguish, lack of job satisfaction, poor working conditions and much more.

“The major cause of brain drain includes a poor care delivery framework from a failure to invest in the healthcare to foster a conducive environment. The system does not promote professionalism, growth, work satisfaction nor a high reliability culture. Other major drivers include very poor welfare packages, high level of insecurity, limited opportunities for employment, sub specialty training, sociopolitical and economic instability.

“The majority of these issues stems from outside healthcare system and is outside of an individual’s control. Indeed, good governance and commitment to future investment in healthcare would improve conditions in the country that will allow security, good education for children, improved compensation, as described in the Abuja Declaration.”

In the letter, they observed that the migration of professionals is not limited to the medical and dental practitioners alone, saying that the question is why is the medical and dental profession being targeted?

According to them, “Focusing on one aspect of a problem without taking a holistic approach to a sustainable solution will be ineffective. Young professionals leave the country in search of better opportunities. Many are frustrated by the consequences of governance failures that have progressively worsened over the past 30 years.

“The unfortunate reality is the healthcare system is in a state of serious neglect, training and career development opportunities are limited further impairing earning potential. Insecurity is rampant. Equity and Justice are lacking for the average Nigerian.”

The Diaspora Medical Associations said they are invested in crafting effective solutions and are willing to participate in fostering solutions to that extent.

“Hon. Speaker, we look up to your leadership in embracing the purposeful systemic solution and ensuring that a “quick fix” attempt does not worsen the situation. We in Diaspora, support the position statements from other stakeholders including Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP), and Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA).

“We will continue to support positive changes, and growth of our health sector, in all spheres and look forward to engaging with Hon. Abiodun Ganiyu Johnson and other members of the National Assembly in doing the serious work necessary to stop and reverse the brain drain. Diaspora healthcare workers would be willing to return to Nigeria if an enabling environment exists – reversing the trend and helping to solve the problem. Looking forward to solutions.”

The letter was jointly signed by the President, Nigerian Doctors’ Forum, South Africa (NDF-SA), Dr Emeka Ugwu; the President, Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), Dr Chinyere Anyaogu; the President, Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain (MANSAG), Dr. Chris Agbo; the President, Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists (CANPAD), Dr Nnamdi Ndubuka, and the President, Nigerian Medical Association-Germany (NMA-Germany), Dr Al Amin Dahiru.

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