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Doctors warn lawmakers over bill mandating national service



The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has stated that it will reject any efforts made by the Federal Government or any of its agencies to enslave Nigerian doctors under any pretext.

This was stated by the association in a statement following the conclusion of the emergency prolonged National Officers Committee meeting that was virtually held on Friday.

The NARD President, Dr. Emeka Orji, its Secretary-General, Dr. Kelechi Chikezie, and its Publicity and Social Secretary, Dr. Umar Musa, all signed the communiqué that was made public on Monday.

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that will delay granting full licenses to medical and dental professionals with Nigerian training until after they had worked there for at least five years.

The bill, sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson, is aimed at addressing the health workers’ brain drain in the country.

NARD, in its communique, said, “The extended NOC admonishes the Federal House of Representatives that the obnoxious bill as sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson is a clear definition of modern-day slavery and not in keeping with anything civil, and so should be thrown away at this point.

“The house however agreed with him on the palpable dangers of the current menace of brain drain in the health sector and promised to work with the government to reverse the trend when the government was ready to come up with genuine solutions to the problem.

READ ALSO:Nigerian doctors decry govt’s N5,000 monthly hazard allowance

“The extended NOC reiterates that any attempt by the government or any of her agencies to enslave Nigerian medical doctors under any guise would be strongly and vehemently resisted by the association.”

Also, NARD asked the FG to move quickly to pay the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund in accordance with the agreements reached by the stakeholders assembled by the Federal Ministry of Health.

It further stated that any attempts to act differently will simply cause the health industry to experience additional unfavorable crises.

Additionally, it urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to evaluate and enhance the postgraduate colleges’ membership certificates as they currently stand.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had included Nigeria and 54 other countries on its Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List 2023.

The global health body stated that the countries face the most pressing health workforce challenges related to universal health coverage.

“In particular, these countries have: 1) a density of doctors, nurses and midwives below the global median (i.e., 49 per 10 000 population); and 2) a universal health coverage service coverage index below a certain threshold,” WHO said in the report released March 8.

“To account for the disruptions caused to health services by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects on health worker mobility and migration, the threshold for the universal health coverage service coverage index for the WHO health workforce support and safeguards list 2023 has been increased from 50 (the value used for the 2020 list) to 55.”

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