• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Council insists nurses must practice in Nigeria for two years

The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) has insisted it will enforce the contentious verification policy despite a wave of protests from nurses who say it unfairly restricts their emigration options.

The council said it needs to place the collective welfare of Nigerians ahead of individual pursuits as the government scrambles to salvage the country’s nursing workforce from critical shortages.

Faruk Abubakar, NMCN registrar and CEO lamented that more than 42, 000 nurses left Nigeria in the last three years as training institutions struggle to produce an average of 6,7000 nurses yearly in the past six years.

In 2023, about 15, 000 nurses left, implying that despite huge yearly spending of scarce resources on producing skilled manpower in about 285 schools of nursing and midwifery, Nigeria loses almost all its nurses to fierce competition prevailing in the international nursing labour market.

“We can’t stop the new demands. It is an international standard as every country’s regulatory agency provide verifications and issue letter of good standing. We are not going back,” Abubakar said on Tuesday during a televised interview.

“If we allow every Nigerian to leave as they graduate, who is going to handle our healthcare services? We are not against anyone travelling but Nigerians must be served and provided for with quality healthcare since we produce some of the best working across the world.”

Nurses in Nigeria earn between N135, 000 and N200, 000, according NCNM.

Depending on the level, experience and qualifications, the annual salaries of nurses and midwives range between £20,330 and £93,735 in England, according to data gleaned from United Kingdom on pay scale in healthcare.

In the six-month period of April-September 2021, more than 10,000 new international nurses were registered in the UK, including 1,300 from Nigeria.

Also data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics of the United States shows that the annual wages of registered nurses hovers around $59,450 and $120,250.

In Canada, registered nurses earn between $26.28 per hour and $48.37 per hour.

The revised guidelines for the verification of certificate with the council for practice abroad now demands that nurses and midwives who want to work abroad must have at least two years of work experience after receiving their permanent practicing license.

Applicants who want to relocate must have an active practicing license with at least six months remaining before expiration.

They must also pay a non-refundable fee and provide a letter of good standing from a direct supervisor at their workplace or from a training institution.

The guidelines to become operational from March 1, 2024 has prolonged the verification process to at least six months.

Nurses are also not backing down as they have demanded an abolishment of the policy or a review that considers their interest.

Christiana Adeboboye, chairman, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Lagos chapter said ample focus should be directed at tackling the challenges that fuel mass emigration of nurses from Nigeria, describing the policy as harsh and restrictive of career growth.

She pointed out that nurses like all professionals seek opportunism for higher pay and improved working conditions across the globe.

Adeboboye also explained that nurses face up to 40 hours work or more weekly and a nurse could be in charge of about 32 patients at a time.

With the new policy, she said nurses have to pay a non-refundable fee of about N100, 000. They are up against a six months a verification exercise that could be undertaken seamlessly under 48 hours since with digitization of the process.

“We want the policy abolished or reviewed to suit our interest. We expect that the verification to be free. And government must also look into production of more nurses. We also want our governing board to be reinstated,” Adeboboye.

The federal government aims to produce 47,000 nurse in 2024, according to NCNM registrar.

He stated that a committee has been raised by the Federal Ministry of Health to examine all issues raised by the nursing association, particularly welfare.

Last week, Tunji Alausa, Nigeria’s minister of State for Health and Social Welfare had announced that efforts were underway to increase healthcare workforce.

The registrars and CEOs of health regulatory bodies, he said, have been mandated to double the intake of students starting from the next academic session.

A meeting of the council and the nursing association is expected to hold soon to iron out the differences.