Fight medical tourism, targeting doctors won’t stop brain drain — NMA to reps
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has expressed
displeasure over a bill seeking to mandate medical and dental practitioners to
practice for five years before relocating 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, an All Progressives Congress
(APC) lawmaker from Lagos, the bill seeks to amend the Medical and Dental
Practitioners Act 2004, to address the brain drain in the health sector.
Johnson said it is only fair for medical doctors who enjoy
taxpayer subsidies on their training to give back to society.
Speaking with TheCable on Friday, Uche Ojinmah, NMA national
president, dismissed the bill and said it would not see the light of day.
“I’m sure they know that bill cannot pass because it is
against international labour laws. Everybody that passed through university was
subsidised, why are they only interested in Nigerian medical personnel?” he
“If they want to say everybody that passes through Nigerian
institutions must not leave Nigeria for five years, it is okay because it is
now a law that is not segregational. But to target just Nigerian doctors, it
cannot stand the test of time.
“Why is the house of
representatives not interested in laws that will stop medical tourism? Don’t
they think medical tourism is bad for Nigeria? Everybody from the president to
the national assembly, they all go outside the country to get treated instead
of taking care of our health sector. And the national assembly has not made any
bill to control it.
“There are so many things in Nigeria that they should focus
on but I’m happy that some members of the assembly opposed the bill. The bill
is a segregation bill and cannot pass.”
PASTURES IN NIGERIA’
The NMA president said all the national assembly had done by
considering the bill is to press the panic button of Nigerian doctors, adding
that it will cause them to leave the country in a rush.
“The solution is not
the bill but to find out what is causing the brain drain and take care of it.
You say they are going to look for greener pastures, make their pastures green
in Nigeria. It is simple,” he said.
“Before you know it now, those planning to leave in one year
or two will leave immediately because some of them will be scared.
“So let me use the opportunity to call on Nigerian doctors
to be calm. Nobody will ever in my tenure as president, impede the freedom of
movement of doctors. It is our constitutional right.”
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