Perhaps more than at any other time in our history, Nigerians studying medicine in our universities are passing through harrowing times.
Everywhere you look in the media there are tales of woe, and the major sticking point is the increasing cases of withdrawal of accreditation to universities by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council (NMDC).
Within the past few weeks, the medical students of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) blocked major roads leading to the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education to protest the University's inability to upgrade facilities to ensure the accreditation of the medical courses.
In a similar vein, medical students of the University of Benin also blocked roads over withdrawal of accreditation. This means the students can no longer validly continue their education unless serious intervention takes place.
Over 300 medical students sued the University of Jos over their rejection after being admitted. The authorities took the action after it discovered it admitted students for the 2008/2009 session in excess of required capacity.
The crisis affecting medical education in Nigeria has manifested internationally as United Kingdom's General Medical Council (GMC) has banned medical students from nine Nigerian universities from sitting for the exams that will enable them undertake post-graduate studies or practice in the UK. The GMC's Mr Jackson Day disclosed that the affected Nigerian universities no longer meet the standards.
The bleak picture being painted shows that Nigeria is losing interest in the quality of medical graduates it produces. It was the high quality of doctors trained in Nigeria in the 1950's to 1980's which made Nigerian doctors hot cakes in countries like Saudi Arabia, UK, USA, Canada and other parts of the world. The "brain drain" we suffered during that period consisted mainly of medical practitioners.
The unacceptable trend of our medical students and graduates being rejected can only spell doom for healthcare services. These students will come out of their ordeal half-baked. They will be unleashed on our medical services with devastating consequences.
It is high time that the federal and state ministries of education and health as well as the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council joined hands to address the crisis of medical education with a view to restoring order.
Nigeria is still severely under-served by medical doctors and other professionals, especially in the rural areas.
Even when we attain excess capacity there is more than enough space for medical practitioners in the world out there.
Every university does not have to have a medical faculty. Efforts must be made to ensure that those accredited to offer medicine must be up to the required standards. The chaos must stop immediately. We can no longer afford it.