Ondo State government in 2014 signed into law the bill for the establishment of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, it was proposed by the Ondo State House of Assembly under Schedule 1, Section 5(2), and Article 39(1) of Ondo State Laws. The Law was designed to find ways to sustain the delivery of model health services and achieve the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 aimed at reducing maternal and child deaths. Earlier, the model Mother and Child Hospitals were established in Akure the state capital and Ondo with an ultra-modern diagnostic service and a Medical Village with considerable investments made in infrastructural and human resource development. To sustain such a groundbreaking vision, and ensure quality delivery of health services for all, the idea of a university came to the fore.
OVER the years, Ondo State was recognized across the federation for its exploits in the education sector most especially in the areas of providing qualitative education, one in line with global best practices for students across tertiary institutions in the state. This has been evident in the previous exploits of Ondo State students among their contemporaries from other institutions. THIS record of successes in the State’s education terrain and the quest for medical experts with the requisite skills and capability to provide state of the arts healthcare for the people was the rationale behind the establishment of the University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED), the first specialist university in medical services in Nigeria with official recognition from the National Universities Commission (NUC) beginning from April 22, 2015.
ON Friday December 13, 2019, the university conducted its first convocation ceremony where 31 students from the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, 2018/2019 academic session were presented for graduation and conferred with degrees in Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology. In its just concluded fourth convocation ceremony last month, the university had graduated 327 students from the undergraduate programmes inclusive of the first set of medical laboratory scientists. The institution also produced the first set of Medical and Dental practitioners and were inducted into the highly revered medical profession meaning that the dream of government and the objective behind the establishment of the institution has finally become a reality. Governor Oluwarotimi had announced automatic employment for the pioneer medical doctors from the university.
WHILE we rejoice with the government, the graduates, and the entire people of Ondo State on the attainment of this new milestone, we urge these new inductees to be committed to rescuing the already sinking ship of the Nigeria health sector and not be caught in the web of japa syndrome. According to reports credited to the General Medical Council (GMC) of the UK, no fewer than 162 Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed to practice in the United Kingdom between February and March, 2023. The report reveals further that at least three Nigerian-trained doctors were licensed per day in the United Kingdom from February 2 to March 15, 2023. It has also been confirmed that Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan.
From the above data, Nigeria is grappling with many professionals leaving the country for greener pastures. Though the Federal Government claimed that brain drain is not peculiar to Nigeria, the World Health Organization has warned that mass exodus of medical personnel could negatively impact Nigeria’s health care system and hinder progress towards achieving universal health coverage and health security.
TO whom much is given, much is expected hence, the time is ripe to reciprocate the gesture of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and help in the fulfilment of the realization of the objectives behind the establishment of the institution. This could only be done by rendering selfless service in the health sector and ensuring that quality health care is made available to all and sundry rather than seeking greener pasture in the diaspora. Let the spirit of patriotism be in display as nobody will build Nigeria but Nigerians.
GOVERNMENT across all levels should as well provide an enabling environment for medical personnel. No doubt, poor condition of service, poor remuneration, obsolete medical facilities among others are some of the reasons why Nigerian-trained medical doctors seek greener pastures elsewhere. According to the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Emeka Orji, there is need for a review in the salary structure of medical personnel. The government should as well work with the medical bodies to resolve their various lingering concerns.
FINALLY, we urge the government to as a matter of urgency, provide conducive work environment for these medical personnel and other critical professionals as this would go a long way in encouraging them to stay back in the country.