Friday, August 22, 2014

Federal Government Should Give Full Scholarship To All Medical Students

Every literate person knows that we don't have enough medical doctors in Nigeria, because the doctor-patient ratio of 1:6400 in Nigeria falls short of the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 1:600.

Confirmed reports say medical schools in Nigeria graduate between 2,500 and 4,000 new doctors annually and almost all of them are self-sponsored and study under pressure of inadequate facilities and their hostels are an eyesore. And the few available doctors are not well paid and the public hospitals are scary, because they lack the most important life saving supplies in medical equipment.

“Over 100,000 applicants show interest in studying Medicine and Surgery annually but less than 5 percent are offered admission. Universities cannot admit more than a certain quota, based on Nigerian University Council (NUC) policy. This is due to lack of infrastructures in our universities. The onus lies on the Government to increase funding for education to put in place requisite facilities. This in turn would increase the number of applicants admitted to study medicine, increase the number of medical graduates and reduce the current Doctor-Patient ratio,” said former President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele.

The British National Health Service (NHS) fact sheet on the number of registered doctors shows that over 3, 936 Nigerian doctors are in active service in the UK.
There are over 71,740 Nigerian medical and dental practitioners, but only about 39, 000 are working in Nigeria. And reports have confirmed that Nigerians spend over N78 billion annually on foreign medical trips and the biggest spenders are members of the ruling class in the corridors of power, including the honourable Minister of Health.

In view of the national emergency in the health sector with underpaid medical doctors often going on strike and poor patients suffering and dying when they would have been saved, the government should know that the solution is to address the scarcity of qualified medical doctors and lack of modern medicare.

The fact that over 100, 000 Nigerian students apply for admission in the few medical schools is enough proof that Nigeria can meet the doctor-patient ratio of 1:600 of the World Health Organization (WHO). And the only way to do so is to give full scholarship to all medical students instead of wasting billions of naira on foreign medical trips. The billions are enough to train more medical doctors and improve the quality of health care in the most populous country in Africa.

There is enough money from the oil and gas sector that made over $73 billion in 2013 and projected to contribute $108 billion per year by 2030. The government can use just only 10 per cent of the annual revenues from the oil and gas sector to pay for full scholarship of all medical students to study in Nigeria and then spend at least a year in the best medical schools in the world.
Kebbi state government recently released N176 million (over $1.1 million) for the payment of tuition and registration fees for 62 students sponsored to study medicine in Indian and Sudanese universities. This is laudable and the federal government should able to do more than that for the common benefit of all Nigerians.

Wealthy Nigerians who are making billions of naira should also contribute to provide full scholarship to Nigerian students to study medicine and they should also donate world class medical equipment to public hospitals and medical centers in Nigeria.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

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