The Nigerian Medical Association has described the recommendation of the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, for the reduction of the number of years in medical studies, as ‘illogical and unreasonable.’
At a conference on ‘Human resources for health in Nigeria,’ in Abuja, on September 16, Chukwu said the number of years in medical studies in the country was unproductive given that medical students stayed long in school without commensurate impact on the type of services they rendered after graduation.
Responding to the minister’s recommendation, the President of NMA, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, told SUNDAY PUNCH that instead, the Federal Government should improve the quality of medical training and even add more years if possible.
He said, “I want to believe that the minister of health might have been misquoted because I find it difficult to tie that assertion to the reality on ground. I don’t think it is logical and reasonable to begin to talk about reduction in the number of years of training.
“The trend now is to even increase years of training because of current trends globally and also in Nigeria. Medicine is a very rigorous, high-level training and you can’t do that in less than six years.”
Enabulele blamed the shortage of doctors in the country on brain drain, saying about two-thirds of doctors trained in Nigeria go abroad to practise, largely for better workplace conditions.
He said out of 71, 740 registered doctors on the list of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, only about 27, 000 are practising in the country.
He said, “The fact that we don’t have enough doctors on ground is traceable to several factors. Even the ones we are training are leaving the country. The critical issue is how to attract the medical personnel that are turned out from our medical schools.
“There are about 3000 Nigerian doctors practising in the public service of Britain and over 4000 practising in the public service of America. If we had the 7, 000 doctors from these countries and attract those in other countries like Germany, France and African countries like South Africa, the number of doctors on ground will increase.”
Enabulele added that rising insecurity was another factor driving doctors out of the country.
“As I speak to you, there is a female paediatric oncologist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, who has been with kidnappers since last week. When she is extricated from the kidnappers, you can imagine what will be going on in her mind,” he said.