Medical students for foreign training or…
By Farouk Martins –
There is no good deed in Nigeria unless it involves foreign contracts. We should not be surprised that the pressing need of Federal Government to improve one year training for medical residents is to send them abroad. Under the cover of recommendation by Rowland-Egba committee, to save us from heart attack and stroke: “with the rest of the world, we are paying greater attention to non-communicable diseases”. Actually, there is a sharp resurgence in the management of communicable diseases in the western world. Even if Nigeria heart attack and stroke are more of our problem than communicable disease, which is not, we need to stop indulging in western food at exorbitant cost to our economy.
What our local doctors need in that case, are African trained nutritionists to teach medical students how to prevent stroke and heart attack.
One of the biggest problems in Primary Health Care Unit of the Federal Government in the eighties under Professor Olikoye Kuti when some strides were made in that field was the inadequate training of our western trained local doctors that did not know enough about local ailments especially in infectious diseases. Our medical training was never modeled to indigenous medical field and we are paying dearly for it. What is wrong with us? No overseas training is for free especially for foreign students. Some people must be counting their British and American dollars right now before arranging contracts in those countries. We do not even have enough money in local currency to establish enough medical schools to take care of our population but we are willing to over-train those in need of serious local parasitic and infectious skills.
Can you imagine the Chinese sending their medical students abroad to learn how to practice acupuncture? Many Nigerians are dying of preventable, treatable infectious and parasitic diseases. Reasonable medical expects have been begging our medical schools to increase their training of students into the villages. This was one of the reasons we started training local health officers in Schools of Health Technology. Moreover, this so called world standard of our medical students has never benefited us since many of these students already trained according to western standard, sought out foreign countries to relocate and practice.
The reason a country trains students is to be useful in their environment, not to be useful for others. This inferior complex that we are only as good as western world if we model and equal them at their game is insane.
We hardly specialize in endemic diseases right under our noses. If we lose, according to some exaggerated estimate, fifty percent of our medical students to countries outside Nigeria, it means giving them further training overseas will help us keep them in Nigeria. This type of warped logic is what is keeping Africa as a whole underdeveloped, not some foreign invisible enemies, that use us against ourselves because we welcome it. They are going to come up with some excuses that our laboratories, equipment and facilities are not adequate for training. Nobody has been able to explain why we have to have the same facilities equipped the same way and why our Bunsen burner and Petri dish have to be the same.
Indeed, we have world’s best laboratory full of patients in our villages. Foreign medical professors come to Africa each summer to learn from patients.
If we are really in need of expertize in highly skill training anywhere in the world, there are tons of Nigerians inside the Country and outside that can be contracted to give these training locally to our students instead of taking Mecca to Mohamed. We have too many distinguished medical scholars that relocated to Nigeria rather than stay overseas. But it is the pocket-policies of our politicians that snubbed them into private practice.
Ibadan, Lagos, Abuja, Nsukka and Zaria teaching hospitals have established state of the art medical specialties on their top floors with four stars hotels comfort, they are even willing to fly any expert in but these same politicians never take treatments from them. They cannot wait to rush to overseas hospitals for headaches or colo-mental problems. Is there any medical specialty in this world without Nigerians?
Lately there are some arguments about states sending students to sub-standard schools abroad for training and coming back home with those cultures when the same amount of money can be spent establishing better schools here. It get worse, some of the states prefer graduates from certain religious countries. Our own local students complained many times that foreign graduates get jobs before them.
Reconciling this warped mentality with that of legal profession which establishes School for lawyers at home and foreign graduates to adapt their training to local needs, beats a reasonable mind. May be we should send our lawyer abroad too. In spite of the fact that medical training in Nigeria is modeled after that of the British, none of our students can practice in Britain without undergoing rigorous and selective political quota in training.
Unfortunately, this mindset is not limited to certain people in the medical profession alone. It is the story of our sorry state chasing ghosts in the name of salvation. Anyone can attract students of any discipline with the words “International, American or British” attached to the name of their schools. No matter how qualified, an African teacher will not be paid as foreign teacher with fewer qualifications in her own Country.
Our problem goes beyond skill acquisitions, training and qualification. It has more to do with pocket-policies and colo-mentality that we cannot shake off. We see it everywhere in what we eat, drink, wear, speak, drive and buy. At the same time we deride and belittle what we can manufacture and services we can produce. Even when the services are for endemic diseases and right at our noses for us to use, we ignore them.
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