Faruk Abubakar, registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) has disclosed that over 15,000 nurses and midwives have fled the country in 2023 to seek greener pastures.

Abubakar disclosed this while speaking on a controversial issue concerning nurses’ certificate verification on Tuesday’s edition of Channels Television’s Morning Brief.

Nurses have taken to protests at the NMCN’s offices both in Abuja and Lagos to express their displeasure over what they deem as an attempt to restrict their freedom to pursue career opportunities while asking that the council address every issue concerning the welfare and rights of nurses.

The Nigerian nurses are displeased over the newly revised guidelines by the NMCN over requesting for verification of certificates for nurses and midwives to foreign nursing boards or councils.

They are demanding a review of the circular’s content to avoid any subjectivity of nurses’ development and progress that is being hindered due to the nation’s poor health care, infrastructure, funding, welfare, and working conditions in the health sector.

Health workers also stressed that there has never been any scenario where regulatory bodies have requested work experience or mandated years as of practice/ service as a yardstick for verification.

The council in response stated that its revised guidelines which contain that applicants in need of verification of certificates from foreign nursing boards and councils, must possess two years of post-qualification experiences immediately after the date of insurance of the permanent practicing license.

This decision made in an attempt to curb the unwholesome brain drain that has left the country with the frequent fleeing of midwives and nurses from the country.

However, the Registrar of the NMCN, said that there is a growing number of nurses leaving the country every year which leaves an immeasurable impact on the Nigerian health sector.

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According to him, “42,000 nurses left the country in the last three years. Last year alone, it was over 15,000, the number is increasing year by year.”

He also mentioned that the council is doing its best in order to protect and improve the welfare of the nurses alongside the Federal Ministry of Health who is bent on guaranteeing an improvement on the nurses’ working conditions, salaries, allowances and other rights.

“The FMoH and the honourable Minister of State (for health) are working hard to ensure a very conducive working environment, with the provision of state-of-art equipment, and instruments that will help them provide quality care for Nigerians.

“And I want to assure (you) that within a couple of months; a lot has been integrated and provided in 2024 that will improve the welfare of the nurses that we are talking about. When talking about the salary they are talking about, I think it’s a general phenomenon, and I believe it’s a general thing.

“There is a lot of progress that is going on to review the salary and nurses are also included in that policy. I think it’s a general phenomenon, all other sectors are also complaining, and the government is doing a lot.

“Our responsibility is to ensure that nurses are regulated to better education and practice for Nigerians. Those who are responsible are doing their best to ensure that the welfare is attended to.

“Additionally, the NANNM, which is the umbrella body (of nurses and midwives) is doing a lot. I know that there was a lot of discussion with the honourable Minister some weeks back, and all related to their welfare. The association that is responsible for that is doing its best to ensure that the welfare is improved drastically,” he maintained.

Abubakar further added that the council is not responsible for the remuneration of nurses in the country.