42,000 nurses have left Nigeria in three years, says NMCN registrar

According to the Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN), Faruk Abubakar, a staggering 42,000 nurses have left the country in the last three years. 

This revelation comes amidst protests by the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) against the council's new certification verification guidelines. 

NMCN had issued a circular saying applicants seeking verification of certificates to foreign nursing boards and councils must have two years of qualification experience and also pay a non-refundable application fee.

But speaking about why the council issued the guidelines, he said the development is in line with international best practices, adding that so many nurses in the country have left in the past few years.

“Let me make it clear today, in the last three years, over 42,000 nurses left this country and the country needs them,” he said on Tuesday’s (February 13, 2024) edition of Channels Television’s ‘The Morning Brief.’

“Government policies, especially the present Renew Hope Agenda, a lot of policies are coming onboard, the Federal Ministry of Health came up with so many policies where Nigerian healthcare system will be improved.”

He maintained: “Now if we allow every Nigerian to leave as they graduate, who is going to handle our healthcare services? Who is going to provide these services? We are Nigerians and it is our responsibility to these services.

“So, we are not against anybody travelling but Nigerians must be served and must be provided with this quality healthcare since we are producing the quality and best nurses that are working anywhere in the world.”

According to him, the Council has gotten several complaints about the relocation of nurses from the country. But he said such relocations should be done rightly.

“Just last year, a number of nurses were found with fake documents in America and when we did a background search, about eight of them were not in our database, they hadn’t collected their verification letter or letter of good standing and they faked the documents,” he said.

“We don’t want to recall the individual because it will dent the image of the country. So we decided to strengthen the verification process before they leave and that’s what we did.”

Nonetheless, the departure of such a large number of nurses, observers note, is a significant blow to Nigeria's healthcare system, which is already struggling with a shortage of medical personnel. 

The NMCN, they therefore argue, must work with the government and other stakeholders to address the issues that are driving nurses away from the country and find ways to retain and attract skilled healthcare workers.

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