Establishment of science, tech varsity in Tsafe will address vast migration in health sector – Akpabio

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio has said that the establishment of the Federal University of Health Sciences and Technology in Tsafe, Zamfara will address the  ‘Japa syndrome’ in the health sector.

He said this at a one-day public hearing on “A Bill for an Act to Establish the Federal University of Health Sciences and Technology Tsafe, Zamfara” held in Abuja on Monday.

The hearing was organised by the joint Senate Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary) and Education (Tertiary Institutions and TetFund).

Akpabio who was represented by Sen. Tony Nwoye (LP-Anambra) said that the establishment of the institution would address the migration of health care professionals otherwise known as ‘Japa syndrome’.

“While this bill is apt, in spite of our scarce resources, will address the seeming migration of health care professionals.

“This is by training new younger ones hungry to serve our dear nation in line with government’s effort at transforming all critical sectors of the economy.

“Today, the doctor to patient ratio in Nigeria is among the lowest in the world.

“The World Health Organisation’s benchmark is one doctor to 600 patients. But in Nigeria, we have a ratio of four doctors to 10, 000 patients. That is an alarming figure.

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“Nigeria needs more health institutions that will help to train more doctors in as much as some of them that we are already trained are going outside the country in the name of Japa syndrome.”

He further said that establishment of the institution would not only strengthen and expand the existing health care sector, but would also position it to a more efficient health care delivery service to improve learning and research.

Chairperson of the Committee, Sen. Ipalibo Banigo said that the committee would continue to enact laws especially health laws, to meet the health demands of citizens.

She said that this was necessitated by Nigeria’s growing population, emerging diseases and the dire need for development both of manpower, infrastructure and intellect.

“The bill seeks to establish a federal university of health sciences and technology in Tsafe, Zamfara by upgrading the existing college of health sciences and technology.

“To provide full-time courses in health sciences, technology and other fields of study to train high quality medical professionals with broad knowledge, skills and values.

“To strengthen institutional capacity for disease control and surveillance as well as bridging the gap in medical research and making provisions for the general administration in the university among other related matters.”

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The lawmaker added that establishing the institution in Zamfara would promote research and training, teaching of health extension services and training of manpower for medicine and allied sciences for Tsafe and by extension, Nigeria.

Gov. Dauda Lawal of Zamfara appreciated the Senate for recognising the need for the establishment of the university.

Lawal was represented by the Secretary to the State Government Abubakar Nakwada.

He said: “This initiative reflects the national assembly’s commitment to uplifting the education sector in the north west.”

Lawal said that the realisation of the institution would create additional opportunities for higher education for secondary school leavers from other tertiary institutions in the state and across the nation.

On his part, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, said that the ministry was in support of the effort of the national assembly toward increasing the capacity of health workforce in the country.

Pate who was represented by Director of Hospital Services Department, Dr Jimoh Salaudeen, said that increasing the capacity of workers was commendable.

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He, however, appealed to all the institutions within that zone to put in more efforts to increase the number of science students that would serve as input into the institution.

Also speaking, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman noted that the proposed location for the federal university of health sciences and technology Tsafe has been for sometime, security-challenged.

He was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry Mrs Didi Walson-Jack.

He said that the ministry’s perspective was that establishing another institution in such an area may present some further challenges.

“The ministry proposes that the federal university in Gusau, which is in Zamfara may be empowered to establish a department of medical services.”

He said that huge resources were required in maintaining a university adding that the economic situation of the nation was also not at a point where the ministry was able to manage all the existing universities to world standard.

“Based on these reasons, the ministry regrets that she is unable at this time, to support the creation of the federal university of Health Sciences and Technology Tsafe, Zamfara.”

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