Tuesday, December 7

FG can’t force us to practice in Nigeria — Doctors reply Ngige

Nigerian Doctors have rejected the proposal by Dr Chris Ngige, for Nigeria-trained physicians to work in the country for a period of nine years before being allowed to migrate to work in other countries.

Ngige who is the Minister of Labour and Employment, had during the 2022 budget defence of his ministry at the House of Representatives lamented the effect of brain drain on the health sector in relation to the low cost of medical education in the country.

Ngige suggested that medical workers trained by the government should be made to sign a bond that would make them serve the country for at least nine years before they can consider relocating to another country.

He said, “Medical education in Nigeria is almost free. Where else in the world is it free? The Presidential Committee on Health should come with a proposal for bonding doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists and other health workers so that they don’t just carry their bags and walk out of their country at will when they are trained at no cost.

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“In London, it is £45,000 a session for medical education in universities. If you go to Edinburgh or Oxford, you pay $80,000. If you go to the USA you pay $45,000 but if you go to the Ivy leagues, you pay $90,000 for only tuition, excluding lodging. You do it for six years. So, people in America take loans.

“We can make provisions for loans and you pay back. If the government will train you for free, we should bond you. You serve the country for nine years before you go anywhere.”

Findings by The Daily Vendor Newspaper showed that the number of Nigerian doctors who have migrated and now practicing in the United Kingdom had hit 8,983 as of the past week, and is likely to go higher this week.

It was gathered that at least 264 doctors had been licensed by the UK General Medical Council in the last 53 days, that is an average of 4.6 Nigerian doctors per day.

The council’s website showed that as regards the number of foreign doctors working in the UK, Nigeria comes third, behind India and Pakistan which have 30,388 and 15, 962 doctors respectively operating in the UK.

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The statistics also showed that between November 13, 2020, and November 12, 2021, the number of Nigerian-trained doctors in the UK had risen by 932.

The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria and the Guild of Medical Directors have however kicked against the minister’s plan.

The President, Association of Resident Doctors, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja chapter, Dr Azeez Ojekunle, noted that Ngige’s statement would increase the rate of brain drain in the country.

“We were looking forward to having a panacea for the long-standing massive brain drain, but quite unfortunate that response from such a stakeholder will only inevitably worsen the exodus in a rather geometric pattern.

“Such proportion will cause exodus in the early medical career path which currently is more among practising medical doctors and will then progress to medical students who glaringly see the deplorable state of practicing environment in the health care sector.

“Even right now, final year medical students are begging to write examination to exit the country as soon as upon completion of their housemanship,” Ojekunle said.

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