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Reps to probe medical council over ‘expensive’ 6-month programme for foreign-trained doctors

Reps to probe medical council over ‘expensive’ 6-month programme for foreign-trained doctors
December 15
17:02 2021

The house of representatives has resolved to investigate the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

At Wednesday’s plenary session, the green chamber mandated its committee on healthcare services to probe MDCN over its directive requiring foreign-trained doctors who seek to take the council’s assessment examination to undergo a six-month mandatory attachment programme.

The lower legislative chamber passed the resolution following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Solomon Maren, a lawmaker from Plateau.

TheCable had reported that the MDCN asked all medical graduates who schooled abroad and want to take the council’s assessment examination to pay a non-refundable fee of N900,000, while non-citizens are to pay N1,400,000 for the programme.

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The council had said the first attachment programme will commence in January and run till June.

Leading the debate on the motion, Maren said the requirement by MDCN may discourage medical practice in the country.

“The foreign-trained graduates are coming from where the profession is not only highly paid for, but also sought after. Hence, the move may discourage them from coming back to the country to practise,” he said.

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Efforts by the federal government to boost and improve healthcare delivery through human capital development may be jeopardised if such outrageous charges are not removed, as many intending graduates may not be able to enrol into the council, without which they cannot practise.”

Maren told his colleagues that if “deliberate and proactive steps are not taken to check those atrocious charges the healthcare system will suffer further lack of professionals, thereby increasing medical tourism out of Nigeria and jeopardising the federal government’s efforts at economic recovery”.

Contributing to the motion, Agbedi Fredrick, a lawmaker from Bayelsa, said if the programme is suspended, it will alleviate the challenges of youths and parents.

He said Nigeria is in short supply of doctors and dentists, adding that the programme will discourage doctors from returning to the country.

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“There should not be punitive measures to punish them if they want to return,” Fredrick added.

However, Ahmadu Jaha from Borno kicked against the motion and said what Nigerians pay abroad is higher compared to what MDCN requires.

“Most Nigerians are going outside the country for medical practice and the amount they pay abroad for them to be registered with relevant agencies or organisation is so high compared to what Nigeria charges them. We charge in naira, but abroad they charge in foreign currencies,” he said.

“We should understand that the value of our currency has a serious issue on this matter. If we say simply because you went abroad and spent thousands of dollars on a yearly basis to obtain the certificate and for you to come back to Nigeria to practise, and they say you have to write and register with the relevant council and pay only one or two million naira, there is nothing wrong with that.”

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Also speaking, Haruna Mshelia from Borno, said the motion is timely because the house committee on health and its senate counterpart are already looking into the matter.

The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.

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