Ibrahim Oloriegbe, chairman of the senate committee on health, has faulted the bill seeking to mandate medical and dental practitioners to practice for five years before relocating abroad.
Oloriegbe said the bill violates the right to freedom of movement enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended).
On Thursday, the bill seeking to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act 2004, in a bid to address the brain drain in the Nigerian health sector, passed second reading at the house of representatives.
The bill was sponsored by Ganiyu Johnson, an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker from Lagos.
The bill proposes to mandate Nigerian-trained medical and dental practitioners to practice for a minimum of five years in the country before being granted a full licence.
The development has elicited varied reactions.
The Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA) and Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) have opposed the bill.
Oloriegbe, in a statement issued in Twitter on Saturday, said the bill is not “enough as a strategy” to address brain drain in Nigeria’s health sector, adding that “factors responsible for brain drain are multifaceted”.
The medical doctor said the sponsor of the bill does not understand facts related to “granting of practicing licence” in the health sector.
The senator added that the factors making skilled health workers migrate out of Nigeria must be resolved instead of proposing a bill.
“The bill is not enough as a strategy to address the challenge of brain drain in the health sector,” the senator said.
“This is because the factors responsible for brain drain are multifaceted and the mere denial of full practice license to medical practitioners as contained in the proposal will never resolve and may even aggravate them.
“Besides, it is not only medical doctors that are leaving the country for greener pastures abroad, there are other health workers, as well as professionals in other fields of human endeavour, trained but leaving the country on daily basis for similar purposes.
“Focusing attention only on the medical doctors is like curing one of many ailments that are threatening the life of a dying patient without finding solutions to the others.
“In addition, with all due respect, the issues and facts related to granting of practising license are not understood by the sponsor of the bill.
“The piece of the proposed legislation at a minimum violates the right to the “Freedom of Movement” (Sec. 41) and “The right to freedom from discrimination” under (Sec. 42) as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999, as amended.
“These rights cannot be ordinarily denied by any person or government. Thus, we can’t be seeking legal redress through an illegal procedure.
“A person who is “qualified as a Medical Doctor” cannot be denied a license to practise having been certified qualified, except if he is found wanting in the ethics of the profession. Labour laws will come into place here.”