By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
A bill seeking to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Iyin Ekiti, on Tuesday scaled second reading in the Senate.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), while leading debate on the piece of legislation, said the establishment of the university would provide basic scientific training as a foundation for the development of medicine and allied disciplines.
According to the lawmaker, “the enactment of this Bill will help in transforming the health and educational fortunes in Nigeria in producing the desired medical manpower and expertise that Nigeria is yearning for.”
He added: “Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, our health has very high potentials, and requires high level technical, scientific and administrative skills to drive it. The university is therefore to further advanced knowledge through research and nurture unique innovations in the health sector.
“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, this Bill is well organized for its very own purpose of a modern academic and research institution.
“The objectives of the University as articulated above are supportive of its mission and broad vision of a modern institution that will develop world-class medical personnel that can sustainably manage our nation’s Health sector by providing medical expertise at the highest level.
“The University is, therefore, to further advance knowledge through research and nurture unique innovations, entrepreneurship and wealth management in its core area of interest.”
Bamidele disclosed that, the Ekiti State Government was willing and ready to part with over 1000 acres of land in support of the establishment of this institution.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East), while lending his voice in support of the bill, attributed the inability of Nigerian researchers in the country to produce a vaccine for Covid-19 to the lack of research by medical scientists in universities.
“University of Medical and Health Sciences is very important in this country in terms of research.
“If you look at what is happening now, all over the world countries like our are trying to produce vaccines which today we have not produced any. And I’m surprised why we have not done that.
“And, therefore, what we need is to have more of this research institutions so that they can sit down and look at this thing dispassionately and come up with some of these vaccine products,” he said.
Another lawmaker, Ajayi Boroffice, on his part lamented that the recent pandemic exposed the weakness of Nigeria’s health sector, adding that, “it is obvious that necessary steps must be taken to remedy this very critical situation.”
According to him, the insufficient number of teaching hospitals across the country has left graduates of the medical sciences with no option but to seek internship in other countries such as Ghana.
Gobir said: “Mr. President, it is a known fact that the existing Teaching Hospitals in this country do not have the carrying capacity to admit all the candidates that are qualified to study medicine and, therefore, there’s a need to expand that carrying capacity. The establishment of this University would greatly enhance that capacity.
“On the other hand, Mr. President, it is indeed unfortunate that when our graduates from the medical school, when they graduate, the cannot have the opportunity of internship in the country, which is always available in the tertiary institution.
“And, there’s a great movement in droves of our young medical graduates to other countries like Ghana to seek internship experience. So, I’m sure that the establishment of this university teaching hospital will greatly help in reducing this problem.
“Mr. President, we will also notice that in this recent pandemic, the discovery of the vaccine is usually in cooperation between the pharmaceutical companies and teaching hospitals. Whether you’re talking of Pfizer or AstraZeneca, and we have not been able to make any contribution to the development of vaccines.
“I’m sure when we have teaching hospitals of very high quality, where the research is at cutting-edge, we would be able to make our contribution to the development of medical services globally.”
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, after the bill scaled second reading, referred it to the Committee on Health.
The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) is expected to report back within four (4) weeks.