Nigeria’s House of Representatives has passed a bill proposing that Nigerian-trained medical or dental practitioners must work in the country for at least five years before being granted full licenses. The bill is aimed at stopping the increasing trend of medical doctors leaving Nigeria to work in other countries in search of better opportunities.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson and was titled “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap. M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (HB.2130)”.
The proposed law seeks to mandate any Nigeria-trained medical or dental practitioner to practice in the country for a minimum of five years before being granted a full license by the council.
During the second reading of the bill presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamala, Johnson noted that medical practitioners who enjoyed taxpayer subsidies on their training should give back to society by working for a minimum number of years in Nigeria before exporting their skills abroad. The majority of lawmakers supported the bill, although some called for flexibility and options in the proposed law. One member, Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta opposed the bill, saying it was more like enslavement to tie a doctor down for five years in Nigeria, post-graduation, before seeking employment in a foreign country.
Despite opposition to the bill, it passed for second reading. The proposed law is expected to promote quality health services in Nigeria and discourage the brain drain of medical practitioners to other countries.
The bill, when passed into law, will help address the shortage of medical doctors and other health professionals in Nigeria, which has contributed to poor healthcare services and the proliferation of quack doctors in the country.