Reps panel: Exodus of medical workers a significant challenge for health sector

Amos Magaji, chairman house of representatives committee on health institutions Amos Magaji, chairman house of representatives committee on health institutions

The house of representatives committee on health institutions says the “mass exodus” of medical workers is a “significant challenge” for the health sector.

Amos Magaji, chairman of the committee, said this on Monday during the public hearing on the establishment of teaching hospitals, federal medical centres and other health institutions.

The country has been grappling with brain drain in the health sector, with skilled medical workers frequently leaving the country in search of better opportunities abroad.

The doctor-patient ratio in medical centres continues to decline, consequently overwhelming available workers.


The committee said with the nation’s increasing population, there is a need to build more hospitals in rural and suburban areas to meet the health needs of the people.

“With our growing population, the need for reference hospitals closer to the people, particularly in rural and suburban areas, have grown critical for ensuring the success of government initiatives to improve healthcare,” he said.

“Tertiary health institutions in Nigeria provide tertiary healthcare services to complement primary and secondary care in the national healthcare system.


“So far, the government’s role in developing and expanding hospital services in Nigeria has been commendable, with responsibility for one teaching hospital in each state of the federation.

“However, in order to develop and expand the country’s training institutions and ensure an equitable distribution of health manpower, the federal government must balance the inequality in the distribution of tertiary institutions across the country. This need cannot be over-emphasised.

“The mass exodus of health workers and professionals to other countries, particularly the United Kingdom, presents a significant challenge to Nigeria’s healthcare sector.

“More recently, there has been an enormous migration of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists in search of greener pastures in other countries, leaving Nigeria’s health sector severely understaffed.


“To address this challenge, the federal government has declared a state of emergency in the health sector, following a call from the house of representatives.

“The need to reposition the healthcare sector to meet numerous emerging challenges is crucial to its improvement.

“To succeed in this era, a system that is well invested in human resources and medical intelligence as the backbone of the health sector is required.

“The administrative appointment of capable persons based on merit in hospital management also has a role to play.”


Magaji said parliament will ensure that Nigerians have access to the health services they need to meet the universal health coverage requirement of the World Health Organisation (WHO).



While declaring the event open, Tajudeen Abbas, speaker of the house, explained that the lower legislative chamber asked the federal government to declare an emergency in the health sector as proof of its commitment. 

Represented by Kingsley Chinda, minority leader, Abbas said access to healthcare is one of the legislative agenda of the 10th house.


“The onerous responsibility bestowed on the house committee on health institutions by both the house standing rules and the constitution is achievable when the calibre of its leadership and membership are taken into consideration,” he said.

“The present 10th house of representatives at its inception in 2023, set out for itself a legislative agenda whose implementation will surely bring about a tremendous improvement in the living condition/standard of our citizenry.


“The importance of health cannot be stressed and it is because of that the house of representatives declared a state of emergency in the health sector.”

Speaking on the bill to establish the federal medical centre in Ikole-Ekiti, Ekiti state, Akin Rotimi, house spokesperson, said the hospital “will bring several transformative benefits, not only to Ikole Ekiti but several other communities around”.

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