The bill seeking to mandate medical and dental practitioners to practice for five years before relocating abroad has been criticized by the Chairman of the Senate committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe. He stated that the bill violates the right to freedom of movement enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The bill, which aims to address the brain drain in the Nigerian health sector, passed second reading at the House of Representatives last Thursday. It proposes to mandate Nigerian-trained medical and dental practitioners to practice for a minimum of five years in the country before being granted a full license. However, the Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA) and Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) have opposed the bill.
Oloriegbe, who is a medical doctor turned politician, took to his Twitter handle to express his opinion. He stated that the bill is not ‘enough as a strategy’ to address the brain drain in Nigeria’s health sector, and noted that ‘factors responsible for brain drain are multifaceted’. He also insisted that the factors making skilled health workers migrate must be resolved instead of proposing a bill. Oloriegbe pointed out that the sponsor of the bill does not understand facts related to ‘granting of practising license’ in the health sector. He further stated that other health workers, as well as professionals in other fields, leave the country daily for similar purposes and focusing only on medical doctors is like curing one of many ailments threatening the life of a dying patient without finding solutions to the others.