Stakeholders back establishment of Medical University in Niger State

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

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Stakeholders at a public hearing on the bill for an act to establish a University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Bida in Niger State have described the proposal as timely, and would accelerate the growth of the Nigerian health sector.

The bill sponsored by Saidu Musa Abdullahi, a member from Niger State is to secure a national mandate to teach and train high caliber health-care professionals, provide healthcare services and to operate various schools and specialties that offer exemplary training and quality research in health care.

Once the University comes on stream, it will provide more opportunities and fair chance for Nigerians seeking to pursue careers in the medical sciences and most importantly address medical workforce shortfall in the country.

In his presentations on the proposal and other health related Bills before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Health Institutions at the National Assembly, Abuja, Mr. Musa Abdullahi while lamenting the poor doctor/population ratio in the State which stood at one doctor to 9,000, explained that Niger State is the only State in North-Central Nigeria that has no degree awarding institution in medicine and health sciences

The current situation is unacceptable considering the strategic importance of Niger State in the scheme of events in the country.

Aside being the largest State in the country with 76,363 Square Kilometres, accounting for about 10 percent of the nation’s total land mass, Niger State is home to Nigeria’s major hydroelectric power stations, the Kainji Dam, Shiroro Dam, and Jebba Dam as well as the Zungeru Dam which is currently under construction,” Abdullahi argued.

Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the public hearing open said the Bill, one of five considered by the Committee, seeks to alter the architecture of the nation’s public health services in ways that would improve the lives of the people through increasing options available for medical training and providing access to medical facilities in places where there is an evident need.

Represented by the Deputy Chief Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the Speaker said “I assure you that your contribution will neither be ignored, nor taken for granted. I ask you also as you make yourselves heard, to do so with circumspection and respect for opposing views.”

In his presentation, the Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire supported the bill but said the nation has to develop the entire healthcare chain.

He said there should be at least one primary healthcare in every council ward and one general hospital in every local government adding that the priority of the federal government was to build primary and secondary healthcare centers and rebuild tertiary health institutions for optimal performance.

He said health institutions were the foundation for the training of high quality personnel and must be strong.

Former Governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana and Senator Abdulahi Sabi Aliyu have been some of the critical stakeholders, who expressed support for the establishment of the proposed University in Bida.

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