The Senate on Tuesday moved to check the rising emigration of medical and health professionals from Nigeria to developed countries when it considered a bill seeking to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Abeokuta.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC – Ogun Central), in his lead debate said that the establishment of specialized medical universities have become very important in the country as there are high demands for medical and health professionals in Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, “many reports suggest that the number of Doctors, Dentists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, and Bachelor’s Degree-prepared Nurses in the country are just not adequate to deal with the increasing population growth and the healthcare needs of Nigerians.”
“The rising wave of external migration of medical and allied health professionals seeking greener pastures in more developed countries further compounds the problem”, he added.
The lawmaker lamented that the mass emigration of needed professionals from the country has resulted in the near extinction of some disciplines offered by Nigerian universities.
“Furthermore, some critically needed health professionals such as physical and occupational therapists, medical engineers, psychotherapists, and others are just not adequately produced in the country.
“Indeed, some of the disciplines are on the verge of extinction due to the mass migration of these professionals”, Amosun said.
The lawmaker warned that unless measures are introduced to check the situation, health indicators may continue to decline in the absence of interventions to tackle the trend.
“More Doctors and health professionals leaving the country has led to a shortage of Nigerian Doctors and specialized health care practitioners.
“This has resulted in a heavy strain and disaffection among those remaining. It is equally creating a fast rising personnel deficit in the country’s health sector, as statistics show that there is a ratio of one doctor to one hundred patients especially in our public hospitals”, he said.
The lawmaker, however, expressed optimism that Universities of Medicine and Medical Sciences would provide the chance to train the critically needed health professionals as they will have flexibility especially for creative program expansion.
In a related development, the Senate also on Tuesday considered a bill seeking to give legal backing to the University of Health Sciences, Otukpo.
Sponsor of the bill Senator Abba Moro (PDP – Benue South), said the bill if eventually passed into law by the Ninth Assembly, will address the dearth in admission of students aspiring to study Medicine and Allied Sciences in Nigeria and supply of the needed manpower in the country’s health sector.
“It is pertinent to mention here that the teeming Nigerian population puts enormous strain and stress on the national infrastructure and available Health Personnel.
“The Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, when established, would bridge the gap of the challenges of inadequate of inadequate health professional in Nigeria”, the lawmaker said.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bills considered during plenary on Tuesday to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative work, with a directive for it to report back in four weeks.
The Committee is Chaired by Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita (APC – Katsina North).