The incessant strikes by doctors in the country will end with the passage of a bill to regulate the Medical Residency Programme, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has said.
Dogara spoke at a two-day Public Hearing organized by the Hon. Betty Apiafi-headed House Committee of Health Institutions.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for a two-day public hearing on the Residency Bill, a Bill for an Act to Ammend the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria to Streamline the Number of Pharmacy Schools on the Council and three other health sector bills, Dogara who was represented at the public hearing by Deputy Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyema said the House places the health and well-being of Nigerians as top priority.
According to him, the bills under consideration are targeted at improving the efficiency in the country’s healthcare institutions, and as such will receive full support from the National Assembly.
The Ministry of Heath, the West African Postgraduate College of Surgeons, the National Postgraduate College and the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria all hailed the bill on Medical Residency saying the bill would curtail the wrangling in the health sector.
There were however arguments amongst the various stakeholders on how to harmonize the experience and certificates of medical practitioners who studied abroad and desire to practice especially on how they would qualify for residency in the country.
The ministry’s representative Felix O. Ogenyi said the Ministry was behind the bill as it believes the bill will bring about a positive turnaround in the health sector.
Dr. Onyebueze John, President, National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) said the bill was timely and “should be given a favourable consideration with the suggestions given to bring about medical residency training in Nigeria that would help improve medical care in Nigeria.”
He added, “It is sad to note that other countries have seen the training of highly skilled and specialized expertise in addition to the rehired equipment as means of earning positive balance of trade, Nigeria refused to look in the direction of manpower development in our health sector for many years.
“Little wonder what is spent on medical tourism annually in Nigeria is astronomically high as a result of our failure to develop the health sector and give attention to postgraduate training.
“NARD sees this bill if passed as one of those laws that will positively impact in our health sector, the health system and the masses at large.”
However, the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists in their submission signed by their Secretary General, Prof. Noel Wannang and three others argued for inclusion in the residency programme law.
“The purpose of this memorandum is to draw the attention of the House of Representative’s Committee on Health Institutions and the general public to the fact that the residency programme for Pharmacists already exists and should be properly captured in the proposed bill before the House of Representatives,” the organization said.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Betty Apiafi said that it’s time for the Ministry of Heath to include residency funding in the budget. According to the committee, the Ministry of Health should ensure that there is a budget for the residency programme.
She further stated, “In the last two years the committee on health institutions has put a lot of effort towards solving the seemingly intractable and multifaceted challenges that bedevil the health sector.
“The residency programme bill is an example of the National Assembly intervening to deal with the problem of obsolete laws that are not in tandem with international best practices.
“This bill will act as the comprehensive policy of government on the funding, the curriculum, scheme and tenure of the residency programme. It will also resolve the issue of non-uniformity of the residency programme at different institutions as these are the major issues that made the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at specific institutions commence strike with disturbing frequency”.
Recall that the House passed for second reading ‘A Bill for an Act to Regulate the Medical Residency Training Programme in Nigeria and for Related Matters” on March 30. The bill was sponsored by Hon. Betty Apiafi, Chairperson, House Committee on Health Institutions.
Credit: The Nation Online