The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Lagos State Council, has called for the immediate reversal and withdrawal of the new circular on certificate verification by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN).
NMCN in its revised guidelines states that applicants seeking verification of certificates from foreign nursing boards and councils must possess two years of post-qualification experience from the date of issuance of the permanent practicing licence.
This was disclosed in a memo dated 7 February and signed by the NMCN Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, Faruk Abubakar.
This development has generated outrage among Nigerian health workers on social media who described it as a violation of human rights.
However, NANNM in a statement issued after its state executive council emergency meeting on Friday expressed reservations about the council’s circular and its “intent and impact on the progress and welfare of nurses and midwives in Nigeria.”
NANNM observed that the prerequisite of two years of post-qualification practice casts “aspersion on the quality of nurses and midwives licensed by the council” and that it is “an infringement of their rights.”
It also raised concerns regarding the prolonged six-month minimum processing period stipulated in the circular, adding that the requirement for a letter from the Chief Executive Officer of the respective places of work is “a deliberate attempt to make the verification process burdensome.”
Reacting to the circular on the X platform, some X users speculated that the NMCN new guideline is a deliberate measure to address the brain drain in the country.
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A user @mysticimani said: “trapping nurses and midwives in this country because of brain drain when this same brain drain can be solved fairly easily. Pretending like a job with living wages, a conducive work environment and benefits is available in this country when they graduate is absurd”.
Another user @alongeelisha said: “Nonsense!!! This is a denial of human rights and it shall be informed to @ICNurses @WHO @UNHumanRights having been verified by different nursing bodies around the world. There has never been an occasion where regulatory bodies asked for work experience or mandated years of service.”
Apart from the withdrawal of the circular, the NANNM also wants the nursing council to fully digitalise the verification process, including the transmission of decisions to other regulatory councils.
According to the statement, NANNM called on NMCN to provide the verification service at no extra cost while optimising and automating its key processes for a 48-hour turnaround.
It asked the Nigerian government to constitute the NMCN board to ensure proper representation of the interests of nurses and midwives in key decisions.
“Acknowledging the immense hardship faced by nurses and midwives in Nigeria, the SEC urged the government at all levels to prioritise improving the working conditions, working environment, and better remuneration of nurses,” NANNM noted.
It was also resolved that the state council would consider other measures if no positive intervention is observed by the close of business on Monday.
Brain Drain in Nigeria
Nigeria has been battling with the increasing exodus of healthcare professionals, especially doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, to developed countries.
With a doctor-patient ratio over five times worse than the WHO recommendation, Nigeria has continued to lose hundreds of doctors annually to brain drain.
Various statistics show that over 5,000 Nigerian medical doctors have migrated to the UK between 2015 and 2022.
According to data documented by the Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK in 2015; the number increased to 279 in 2016; in 2017 the figure was 475, in 2018, the figure rose to 852, in 2019 it jumped to 1,347; in 2020, the figure was 833 and in 2021, it was put at 932.
As of July, the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Emeka Orji, revealed that the association is left with only a few over 9,000 medical doctors, due to the brain drain crisis in the healthcare system.
The continued emigration of health practitioners has led to a shortage of skilled health workers in the country, which has negatively affected the quality of healthcare services provided to the citizens.