The Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA) vehemently disagrees with the unkindly suggested bill that would require Nigerian-educated medical and dental professionals to work in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before they can be given a full permit to practice abroad.
Ejim Egba, president of NiMSA declared in a statement that the bill sponsored by Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson, a member of the House of Representatives as unpatriotic, poorly timed, and a violation of the fundamental human rights of doctors, as stated in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
He believes this bill is a method of suppressing the medical profession and disregarding its autonomy.
According to Egba: “Johnson’s stated reason for sponsoring this bill will ultimately have the opposite effect of what was intended, as it seeks to restrict the ability of Nigerian-trained doctors to practice and would ultimately harm the healthcare system.
“By making our land more fertile and equipping our hospitals properly, we can reduce the need to search for greener pastures abroad. Additionally, providing better treatment for doctors and controlling brain drain will be more manageable.
“At present, Johnson should be focusing on medical tourism rather than doctors’ slavery. We emphatically disagree that this bill will solve the issue of brain drain and therefore, we firmly oppose it”.
“The bill’s sponsor failed to consider the complex factors that lead to brain drain in Nigeria. A more comprehensive solution is necessary to address this issue, instead of trying to coercively retain doctors.
“Lawmakers should prioritise creating a conducive atmosphere that will motivate doctors to remain and work in Nigeria. These matters must be dealt with if we are to draw and keep our medical personnel; make our country prosperous.
“We also believe that the bill is a violation of the fundamental human rights of medical professionals and should not see the light of the day. The government has no right to force doctors to work in a particular location against their will- it is an affront to their autonomy and choice. 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.
“A better way to bring up the awe of being trained with ‘tax payer subsidies’ would be to have it optional, the option of paying for medical education at the real cost value, the option of obtaining student loans and also the option of going for the subsidised medical education with the caveat of staying behind for a certain number of years to ‘pay back’.
“Additionally, we strongly believe that the bill is arbitrary in nature and totally unconstitutional, as it disproves the Nigerian – trained medical and dental practitioners of their fundamental right to freedom of movement by arbitrarily imposing restrictions on their movements against the provision of Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ” the statement read.
NiMSA strongly opposes this bill both in part and as a whole, as they are urging the sponsor of the bill to withdraw it without delay and seek more effective ways to tackle the issue of brain drain. This could be done through consulting with stakeholders in the health sector and the government taking steps to address the underlying issues that cause healthcare professionals to leave Nigeria.