‘Human rights breach, doctor slavery’ — medical students kick against anti-brain drain bill


The Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA) has
opposed 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.


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


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


“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


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