The House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency and national interest, come up with a work plan, in collaboration with State Governments, to employ all the unemployed medical doctors in the country as part of efforts geared toward improving the healthcare sector.
The resolution was passed following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Saidu Musa Abdullahi, who underscored the critical roles played by health professionals toward improving access to quality healthcare for the ever-growing population by providing essential services that promote health, prevent diseases and deliver health care services to individuals, families and communities based on the primary, secondary and tertiary health care approaches.
In his lead debate, Hon. Abdullahi who cited the report of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) which showed that 24,592 medical doctors are currently unemployed across the country, added that out of the 96,066 registered medical doctors in Nigeria, only 19,416 are employed by the government at all levels while 8,121 medical doctors are employed by the private sector.
“The House notes that the World Health Organisation (WHO) Report of 2006 disclosed that there was a severe shortage of almost 4.3 million doctors, midwives, nurses and support workers in 36 of the 57 countries in Africa.
“The House is aware that in response to the challenge of shortage of health personnel, the WHO, at its 59th World Health Assembly, adopted Resolution WHA59.23 which ’emphasized rapid upscaling of health workforce personnel and recognized the centrality of human resources for the effective operation of a country’s health system and also called for the use of innovative strategies to maximize health professionals’ contributions.
“The House is also aware that as far back as 2006, there were more than 59 million health workers across the globe, distributed unequally between and within countries but were found predominantly in richer countries where health needs might be less severe, however, these numbers remain woefully insufficient to meet global health needs as the total shortage is estimated to be around 4.3 million workers and the gap is increasing with the geometric increase of the world population.
“The House is further aware that data provided by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) shows that there are 96,066 registered medical doctors in Nigeria, however, the total number of updated profiles stands at 53,062 and out of this figure, only 19,416 are employed by the government at all levels while 8,121 medical doctors are employed by the private sector.
“The House is informed that currently, the total number of unemployed medical doctors stands at 24,592 which indicates that the shortfall of Doctors in Nigeria is partly not because of lack of qualified personnel but simply because of lack of deliberate action on the part of the government to make the most of what is even available.
“The House recognizes the need to scale up the health workforce in the country in order to facilitate health planning that would deliver efficient, effective and high-quality health services to citizens.
“The House is concerned that as of 2019, there were more than 10,000 Nigerian healthcare professionals in the United Kingdom and 70 of them have received prestigious awards for their outstanding performances and there are also thousands of Nigerian healthcare personnel in the United States of America and other European and Asian Countries.
“The House is also concerned that despite the number of Nigerian healthcare providers in the diaspora, with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 which has exposed the weakness of the global health systems, countries around the globe, particularly the developed countries are determined to strengthen their health systems and Nigeria must not continue to rest its situation on providence but should rather take deliberate steps to reform its health care system.
“The House observes that if the Federal and State Governments do not take urgent steps to employ the unemployed medical doctors, European and other advanced countries will not hesitate to attract them away, thereby creating more gap in the ratio of medical doctors to patients and the threat of brain drain would ultimately affect the already weak health care system of the country,” he said.
Also speaking, Hon. Musa Sarki-Ada stressed the need for the House to encourage government to employ as many healthcare workers as possible so that public health centres can be aptly staffed and give Nigerians more affordable and quality healthcare.
Hon. Chinedu Ogah also underscored the need for Federal Government to honour the agreements it entered with the health workers to avert their threatened strike action.
To this end, the House mandated the Committees on Labour, Employment and Productivity, Health Care Services and Legislative Compliance to ensure implementation.