Sylvester Idowu in Warri
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Delta State gubernatorial aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, has described the proposed five years compulsory service for medical doctors in Nigeria as discriminatory and undemocratic.
“How would government enforce that? Any doctor who feels that he is not satisfied with his service condition is free to go anywhere. Why and how will he be tied down if conditions of service are not improved? he queried.
The House of Representatives recently passed a contentious bill aimed at addressing the country’s medical personnel shortage.
The proposed legislation requires doctors trained in Nigeria to practice within the country for a minimum of five years before being granted a license to practice abroad.
Onuesoke, who condemned the proposed bill while addressing newsmen on arrival at Asaba International airport, Asaba, Delta State from Lagos, wondered why members of the House of Representative should focus on medical doctors when Nigerians across all professions are fleeing the country in droves to seek greener pasture elsewhere because of the decline of the nation’s economy?
He argued that the proposed bill is undemocratic because it infringes on medical personnel freedom of movement to seek good means of economical livelihood in other part of the world after spending years and finance to acquire the profession.
According to him, “Policy makers who go for medical trip overseas are now telling doctors who suffered and was trained by their parents on where to work. Do you dictate to me on where to work after my studies? If it is easy who do their children not become medical doctors?
Onuesoke disclosed that policy makers must balance the desire to retain medical professionals in the country with the need to encourage individuals to pursue medical training by not only providing good medical infrastructures in the hospitals, but equally provide encouraging welfare packages in order to retain their services.
He advised that government must take a holistic approach to address the healthcare crisis in Nigeria, which includes not only retaining medical professionals but also encouraging more individuals to pursue medical training in the country.
“Do you know that there are many doctors who do not have employment in this country? Such doctors cannot be prevented from leaving the country if they get offer somewhere else,” he stated.
The PDP chieftain further stated that the legislation if passed into law may discourage individuals from pursuing medical training thereby exacerbating the current shortage of medical professionals in the country.
According to him, “Medical students in Nigeria may be deterred from pursuing medical training if they know that they will be required to practice in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a license to practice abroad.”