The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki has said that over 300, 000 more medical practitioners were needed to properly cater to the health needs of Nigerians.
Saraki made this known at the Public Hearing on the Federal University of Health Sciences Otukpo (Establisment, etc.) Bill 2017.
He said as against the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s standard of one doctor to 600 patients, Nigeria had one doctor to about 5000 patients.
He said going by the current statistics of one doctor to 5000 Nigerians, only 35,000 doctors served about 180 million Nigerians, adding that it was grossly inadequate.
According to him, the present development has led to annual loss of about N3 billion Naira to other countries through medical tourism.
While stating that something urgent needed to be done, the Senate President said the bill could not have come at a better time.
“I must thank the esteemed sponsor of the Bill, my predecessor and former President of the Senate, Distinguished Senator (Dr.) David Mark (GCON), for his vision and steadfastness.
“His focus on this goal is, no doubt, a measure of his commitment to alleviating the huge shortfall in the education and training of critical personnel in the nation’s health sector.
“This bill comes not a moment too soon as it seeks to answer the need for more effective training of our medical personnel.
“I am confident that, with the quality of experts, educators, practitioners and other stakeholders we have here today, we can have a robust discussion on issues surrounding the establishment of the university.
“It is indeed an important national assignment, for all who desire a health sector that befits our country in the 21st Century,’’ he said.
Saraki said, the bill, seeking to establish the Federal University of Health Sciences Otukpo, would scale up the specialised training of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals in the health sector.
He added that it would address persisting admission deficit, adding that “figures show that only about 20 per cent of those who qualify and apply are admitted to medical schools in this country.
Earlier, the Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions TETFUND, Sen. Jibrin Barau, had said the establishment of the institution was informed by the need to create more access to university education.
He said the enactment of the bill would no doubt help in transforming the sector in the country by producing more medical manpower in the country.
“The public hearing will allow all stakeholders to be part of the process of revamping the health sector,’’ he said.
The Bill seeking to establish a Federal University of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue, scaled second reading on Oct. 18 and was referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further legislative action.