Medical associations in countries affected by the United Kingdom’s ban on healthcare workers have said the ban will not stop doctors from their countries from leaving for greener pastures elsewhere.
They say that the United Kingdom can only define its terms but that freedom of movement is a fundamental right.
Nigerian doctors react to UK ban
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) reacted to the revised code of practice by the UK, which listed Nigeria and 54 other countries where healthcare workers are recruited.
According to the United Kingdom, the 54 countries recognized by the World Health Organisation as having the most pressing healthcare workforce-related issues.
The code partly read:
“Countries on the list should not be actively targeted for recruitment by health and social care employers, recruitment organizations, agencies, collaborations, or contracting bodies unless there is a government-to-government agreement to allow managed recruitment undertaken strictly in compliance with the terms of that agreement.
“Countries on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards list are graded red in the code. Suppose a government-to-government agreement is put in place between a partner country, which restricts recruiting organizations to the terms of the agreement. In that case, the country is added to the amber list.”
Punch reports that NMA President Dr Uche Ojinmah said in an interview that Nigerian doctors migrate to other countries because of poor remuneration and treatment by the Nigerian government.
He said he does not blame the UK for recruiting Nigerian doctors because they are treated poorly in Nigeria, saying if the government and people place importance on Nigerians, the doctors will stay.
“It is okay that the UK is placing us on the lower rungs for recruitment, but what about the United States of America, Canada, Grenada, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, South Africa, Germany, etc.?
“Nobody can take away the freedom of movement; it’s a fundamental right. They can only define the terms.”
President of NARD, Emeka Orji, stated that Nigerian doctors could migrate to other countries to practice their profession.
According to Orji, the UK is one of many countries which Nigerian health workers can visit to practice and make money.
Orji said that doctors from Nigeria could apply to work in other countries and be headhunted by other nations, which they might not resist.
Countries affected by UK ban
Reports say Nigeria has the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan.
Other countries affected by the restriction, apart from Nigeria, are Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, and Comoros.
Others are Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia.