Brain drain: Reps’ bill prescribes five years compulsory local practice for doctors

A bill seeking to curb brain drain by mandating Nigerian medical doctors to practice for, at least, five years in the country before going abroad, has passed for second reading in the House of Representatives.

Tilted “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 before being granted a full licence by the council in order to make quality health services available to Nigeria,” was sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson.

Leading the debate at Thursday’s plenary, Johnson said the bill, when passed into law, will effectively checkmate the mass exodus of doctors abroad.

He said that bill will also ensure that no doctor was given a full operational licence until after five years.

Speaking against the bill, Nkem Abonta from Abia State said the bill was offensive.

Abonta said: “I have the eyes of seeing bills that will not move on well. What this bill is asking is offensive.

“The Bill is asking that any Nigerian trained medical doctor must mandatorily train five years before he can he be be given a licence after qualification. That’s not obtainable in any clime.”

But in his reaction to the observation, Johnson said it was to enable the medical doctors to give back to the society that trained them.

“Government has invested so much money in training these medical doctors, on the average. Recently United Kingdom opened healthcare visa to people; they were all going to UK, USA, Canada. So should we fold our hands?

“So to give back to our society after training you, the least we can get from you after your housemanship before you’re given full licence you practice for five years before you can go,” he said.

The Bill was, thereafter, put to a voice vote and majority of the lawmakers supported it.

In a related development, the House also passed through second reading the Nigerian Data Protection Bill and police force college training schools and institutions establishment Bill.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Tuesday, written to the House, urging the lawmakers to consider the bills.

He explained that the data protection bill will provide a legal framework for the protection of personal information and establish a data protection commission for the regulation of the processing of personal information.

He also explained that the police force college training schools and institutions establishment bill will provide a comprehensive institutional framework for the establishment of the Nigerian Police Force College for the provision of specialised training to officers in law enforcement to enhance their performance.


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