Under the scheme, medical students received financial support from the state government while at university and were required to serve for at least two years after graduation.
The Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia, on Monday, revived a doctor’s training scheme aimed at boosting the state’s healthcare sector.
Tagged ‘doctors bond’, the scheme aims to sponsor medical students in return for serving in Benue’s public hospitals.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that former Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration scrapped the scheme in 2017, triggering an acute shortage of doctors across Benue’s general hospitals.
Under the programme, medical students received financial support from the state government while at university and were required to serve for at least two years after graduation.
Speaking at an induction ceremony of 41 medical graduates at the Benue State University College of Health Sciences, Makurdi, Mr Alia directed the immediate commencement of the doctor’s bond scheme.
“The bond-doctors scheme is resurrected. We want all our medical doctors to stay within,” promising to “do all we can to provide greener pastures. Please, don’t go away.”
The governor’s directive followed a request by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) chairman in the state, Usha Anenga, that the scheme be restored to address the deteriorating healthcare system.
Some hospitals in the state have two medical doctors attending to hundreds of thousands of patients.
The governor reeled out some interventions he had made soon after taking office on 29 May to address urgent issues in the state’s healthcare industry – payment of N100,000 monthly allowance to doctors undergoing the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme in Benue.
Mr Alia said he had paid this year’s residency training fees for doctors, which the NMA chairman confirmed.
To the academics who complained of a shortfall in their salaries, Mr Alia said, “Consider the anomaly in the shortfall of salaries at the college fixed today.”
Oath to serve humanity
In his charge to the new medical doctors, the governor urged them to reflect on the essence of their Hippocratic oath and “serve humanity” diligently.
He said the university had a critical role in Benue’s growth, urging the academics to drive training and research.
Earlier, the university vice-chancellor, Tor Iorapuu, a professor, advised the inductees to be good ambassadors of the university as they ply their trade.
Mr Iorapuu commended the governor for being the first to attend the university’s induction ceremony for doctors.
He lauded the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for increasing the university’s medical school’s admission quota from 75 to 150.
The vice chancellor recalled the inductees’ decade-long academic journey, commending them for their resilience.
In his remark, the registrar of MDCN, Tajudeen Sanusi, said BSU College of Health Sciences “remains a shining example” in medical personnel training in Nigeria.
Mr Sanusi urged the inductees to imbibe ethical values as the council would not hesitate to discipline erring doctors.
Toeing the same line, the provost of the Benue State University College of Health Sciences, Chia Saalu, a professor, implored the doctors to show integrity and responsibility in the course of their work.
He praised the inductees for their “years of hard work and single-minded pursuit,” urging them not to forget “their humanity” while treating patients.
The college inducted its first set of medical graduates in 2015. Monday’s event brings the total number of doctors who have graduated from the school to 367.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the recognition of two female inductees- Dorathy Igbaver and Sandra Imenger – as the best-graduating students in surgery.
Also, the graduating medical class conferred an award on Governor Alia for his interventions in the state’s healthcare sector.