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Brain drain: FG to raise medical, dental schools’ enrolment to 10,000

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The Federal Government has put in place plans and strategies to double the population of medical and dental doctors from 5,000 to 10,000 starting from the next academic year by increasing admissions into medical and dental institutions.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, on Wednesday at the induction ceremony of foreign-trained medical and dental graduates by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, in Abuja.

Alausa said the mass exodus of licensed doctors and other health professionals to more developed countries would be discouraged by making the healthcare environment more attractive.

According to him, the just over 3,000 doctors produced annually in Nigeria remain grossly inadequate, hence, the need to double the rate of production of health workers.

“Equally, we shall expand these opportunities to all other health professionals like pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, community health extension workers, radiographers, and others. Although this will be in phases. We shall create room to produce more and excess because globally, there’s a shortage of health manpower, which has been estimated at a shortage of 18 million people,” he stated.

The minister said the ministry would continue to advocate more funding into the health sector, and increase the value chain to attract more international grants and funding.

“We are determined to promote industrial harmony in the health sector, by discouraging industrial action in the health sector that has bedevilled the system. The primary healthcare system in Nigeria will be better positioned to address the several challenges that have impeded the accessibility, quality, and effectiveness of healthcare services through a renewed drive to promote health at the grassroots.

“Attaining the UHC, we shall ensure that all individuals and communities have access to essential health services without suffering financial hardships, by optimising health insurance, promoting equitable access, and investing in -healthcare infrastructure amongst others. Policy reforms, advocacy for increased funding, implementation of health insurance schemes, investment in healthcare infrastructure, health education campaigns, and initiatives to improve equity in access to healthcare services and finally halting medical tourism.

“As we celebrate the achievement of our children today, I would like to advise parents to look out for advice from the MDCN on the countries to send their children for medical degrees. Over the years, poor performance in board exams for foreign-trained medical personnel is traceable to inadequate training that falls short of our required standards in Nigeria. We cannot compromise standards that will lead to reckless loss of lives, especially mothers and children,” he added.

He, therefore, urged the inductees to take their responsibilities with utmost dedication and maintain the integrity of the profession.

In his remarks, the Registrar of the MDCN, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi, said the council is taking some steps to discourage the emigration of Nigerian doctors.

Sanusi said, “That is why we do not register membership of the West African College of Surgeons and the West African College of Physicians. We cannot continue to use taxpayers’ money to train people and at the point of the need by the society, they decide to leave the country.

“I will keep saying that you cannot see an American or a Briton that has been trained with taxpayers’ money leave those territories. We believe that with the few people we have if properly spread, it will have a meaningful impact.

We are working tirelessly to increase the capacity of our local medical school without comprising the standard.”

The Registrar emphasised that by the policy of the council, the inductees are not members of the Association of Resident Doctors, but by Nigeria’s constitution, there is freedom of association.

“Today’s induction is a call to service, and it is a service to humanity. If you think that you have been sanctioned here, and you can escape to another jurisdiction, it is not possible because a letter of good standing will be requested from the jurisdiction you are coming from,” he added.

It was reported that 189 medical and 16 dental graduates were inducted into the medical profession.

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