Rep. Abdulganiyu Johnson (APC-Lagos) says his bill that seeks to bar Nigeria-trained medical doctors and dentists from travelling abroad to practice unless they have put in a minimum of five years in Nigeria is informed by the crisis in the nation’s health sector.
The lawmaker, who sponsored the bill, told newsmen in Abuja on Thursday while making clarifications on the raison d’etre of the bill against the backdrop of the controversy it has generated.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill seeking to mandate Nigeria-trained medical and dental practitioners to practise for a minimum of five years in the country before being granted full licence passed the second reading in the House of Representatives on April 6.
Johnson, however, said the bill was not meant to prevent anyone from travelling abroad as being speculated, pointing out that it was meant to forestall the looming crisis in the health sector.
According to him, this is not an attempt to trample on their human rights. We have crisis in the health sector and I am just providing a solution.
“Our population is more than 200million and the number of medical doctors we have is about 10,000. If care is not taken may be herbalists will have to take over and be treating our people.
“We have crisis already and how do we mitigate it? Let us increase the number of years they (doctors) will get their licenses and this is not to stop them from travelling abroad.
“The five years include their national service and housemanship period, which amounts to three years and it is a way of promoting professionalism. You can register for your residency and engage in hospital services.
“By the time they complete the three years they would have completed their residency, it will be a win-win for the country and the medical doctors,” he said.
Johnson said that with the residency training, the doctors would become specialists, pointing out it would be a way of promoting the nation’s medical doctors to be specialists instead of just being general practitioners.
He said UK decision to place Nigeria medical personnel on red alert from coming to their country was a pointer to his bill.
According to him, we have crisis and if the UK said we cannot continue to deplete their medical doctors that shows they are in support of my position.
To the lawmaker, the medical doctors were only looking at the bill from their own point of view but not holistically and not also looking at the nation to see the challenges it was facing.
Johnson, however, said there was room for debate during public hearing to lay all issues on the table, adding that those agitating that the bill should be limited to public schools medical and dental graduates did not understand the issues at stake.
According to him, when it comes to licensing a professional, the school he attended does not matter.
He said the institutions were to train and guide medical doctors, adding that they would all come together when they would be writing their professional examinations.
The lawmaker said the bill also involved welfare and improving their working conditions, adding that by the time the country upgraded its medical facilities, “no one will be going abroad for medical treatment”.