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Brain drain: Medical students demand improved welfare for doctors

The Nigerian Medical Students Association has opposed the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which seeks to make it compulsory for graduates in medical and dental fields to work in Nigeria for five years before being granted full license.

The students described the bill as unconstitutional, saying it would deprive Nigerian-trained medical and dental practitioners of their fundamental right to freedom of movement by arbitrarily imposing restrictions on their movement against the provision of Section 41 the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

A member of the House of Representatives from Lagos State, Ganiyu Johnson, who sponsored the bill, said the move was to check the mass exodus of medical professionals from the country.

The legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to mandate any Nigeria trained medical or dental practitioner to practice in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before granted a full license by the council in order to make quality health services available to Nigeria; and for related matters.’

Nigeria has experienced severe brain drain in recent years with many Nigerian-trained doctors leaving the country to seek greener pastures.

Nigeria is said to have the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the United Kingdom, after India and Pakistan.

While the Federal Government claimed that brain drain was not peculiar to Nigeria, the World Health Organisation warned that this could negatively impact the health system and hinder progress towards achieving universal health coverage and health security.

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