The Senate, yesterday in Abuja, made a shocking revelation that Nigeria has only 35,000 practising medical doctors out of the 72,000 registered personnel, to cater for about 200 million population.
This was as the apex legislative assembly urged the various health professionals and labour unions to work harmoniously for the good of the nation’s health sector.
The Senate, alongside other stakeholders in the health sector, made the revelation on paucity of medical practitioners, during a public hearing on bills seeking for establishments of health related Institutions, Council and Development Fund, organised by the Senate Committee on Health.
Sponsor of the bill seeking for establishment of Federal University of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue State, Senator Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South), said that the university was very necessary for training of medical doctors. “From available statistics, we have 72,000 registered medical doctors in Nigeria and out of this, only 35,000 are practicing.
The implication is that only that number is superintending over the health of over 200 million Nigerians. “This is ridiculous for a country in the 21st century. It is scary. In 2017, JAMB declared that of all the children that applied for medicine and other allied programmes, they could only admit 20%, meaning that 80% of Nigerians waiting to read medicine were left out because they don’t have space.
“This is what the University of Health Sciences will bridge, create more spaces for Nigerian students to read medicine and other allied personnel in the medical market. I think this bill is very significant, establishment of the institution is also very important, at the end Nigerians will benefit from it and it will improve our health sector,” he said.
He noted that though the bill was sponsored, considered and passed during the 8th National Assembly, it was not transmitted to the President for assent before the expiration of the lifespan of the Assembly. Also, the Director/ Head, Family Health Department Abuja, Dr. Awas Kolo, made similar submission, saying that as a result of inadequate manpower in the health sector and needed facilities/equipment, high rate of maternal and pre-natal mortality in the country, had persisted in the last 10 years.
According to her, while the country records about 50,000 maternal mortality on yearly basis, 39 out of 1,000 women die at the prenatal stage. “These statistics show that there has been no improvement and that we are not serious as a country in tackling the problem headlong,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, who declared the public hearing open, urged the various health professionals and labour unions in the country, to work harmoniously for the good of the nation’s health sector.
Lawan, who was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), said that the various industrial disputes among health professionals was not healthy for the development of the nation’s health sector.
He said that the five bills slated for public hearing were crucial not just for the present, but for future generations, saying that the bills were significant for the wellbeing, development and sustenance of the nation’s health management infrastructure.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) said that the National Assembly would continue to enact laws, especially health laws, to meet demands of the citizenry.
He said decisive actions need to be taken to curtail the manifestation of new diseases and complications like the COVID-19 pandemic which came without notice.