Reps support bill on establishment of Federal University of Medicine, Health Service in Bida

A bill that seeks to establish Federal University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Bida, Niger State for the purpose of providing qualitative education in medicine and health sciences and for related matters scaled through second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday.

The bill sponsored by Hon. Saidu Musa Abdullahi seeks to address the acute shortage of trained and specialized healthcare workers in Nigeria.

While speaking on the general principle of the proposed bill, Hon. Abdullahi explained that the initiative was aimed at bridging the low ratio of health workers to citizens in Nigeria, adding that the institution would ensure the training of the health personnel of the region.

“Niger State is the only state in North-Central Nigeria that has no either privately or publicly owned tertiary institution awarding degrees in medicine and health sciences. The only two existing Universities in Niger State i.e. the Federal University of Technology, Minna which is technologically inclined and Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University, Lapai currently do not run courses in medicine and health-related areas.

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“The huge competition for health worker training placement in Nigerian Universities leaves much to be desired as the number of healthcare professional candidates from Niger State considered for admission continue to dwindle and having a highly detrimental effect on the emotional‘ mental and financial strength of prospective students and doctors seeking training in the existing Universities.

“There are 1,335 health facilities in Niger state, out of which two are tertiary health facilities, 21 secondary health facilities and 1,322 (99 percent) are PHC facilities. 1,095 (83 percent) of these PHC facilities are publicly owned while the remaining 227 (17 percent) are privately owned.

“Niger State has a doctor-population ratio of 1 doctor to 9,000 population, far worse than the national average of 1 doctor to 4,000 population against World Health Organization recommendation of 1 doctor to 600 population for effective healthcare delivery.

“The medical and dental council of Nigeria is said to have registered over 70,000 medical and dental practitioners in the country, 50 percent of whom are said to be practicing abroad and over 70 percent of the remaining are practicing in cities and economically sound state, leaving state like Niger state with about 400 doctors to cater for her entire population.

“This may be one of the reasons why the World Health Organization ranked Nigeria health system 187 out of 190 sampled countries of the world,” he noted.

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According to him, the “desire to create the University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Bida Niger State through legislation of the National Assembly stemmed from the need to provide more opportunities and level playing ground for al to gain admission into Nigerians Universities to specialize In Medicine and Machine related disciplines but most importantly, to address medical workforce shortage and mal-distribution in the state, region and the country,” he said.

He explained that the bill which was classified into 30 sections provides for the establishment of the University as an Institution with the status of a public study and research as well as vocational facility, a body corporate with perpetual succession that can sue and be sued. It confers on the University the powers to hold, acquire and dispose of property, express interest in the property, moveable and immoveable.

He also expressed optimism that the proposed Institute, when established, would benefit Nigerians residing in the region and ensure the prevention and treatment of disease outbreak and serve Nigerians in surrounding communities in other North-East states.

Sequel to the support enjoyed by the bill, it was referred to the relevant House Committee on Health Institutions for further legislative action.

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