Give Federal University Of Health Sciences, Otukpo A Chance | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Give Federal University Of Health Sciences, Otukpo A Chance

Prof Agbo
Posted: Jul 29, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ediga Agbo

The establishment of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on May 20th 2015 was greeted with great enthusiasm and applause across the nation because it was the first of its kind in Nigeria. Sadly, the celebration was short-lived and turned into grief when the University, alongside the other four that were established in the last days of the immediate past administration, was suspended four months later! The University was to return to its initial status as a College of Health Sciences, which was a Campus of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM). It will be recalled that prior to the upgrading, FUAM was earlier granted the license to run the College of Health Sciences, which will be located with its Teaching Hospital in Otukpo.

The University, like its counterparts in other parts of the world, was envisioned as a multidisciplinary space for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle health challenges. Developing an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research in health and health-related fields, the University would be committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines.

The Federal Government’s decision to establish the health-based University derived from the nation’s growing need for specialised manpower in the areas of health and health-related resources, which are germane to national growth and development. Such Universities, as agents for specialised high-level manpower developments and self-reliance, contribute in no small measures to the economic development and living standard in many nations of the world.

The relative dearth of health professionals in the country demands concerted efforts to educate and train more health personnel to meet international standards. For instance, the World Health Organisation standard stipulates the ratio of one doctor to 600 patients; in other words, Nigeria needs at least 237,000 medical doctors. Today, the country has? 35,000 practicing medical doctors; that figure is obviously inadequate to meet the health needs of the populace. From the experience of the past years, it is even becoming obvious that the quality of training, competence and skills needed by the profession even outweigh the need for more doctors.

The current University-based medical college system in Nigeria, no doubt, has failed to meet the ever-expanding needs for health professionals that will adequately meet the health needs of the country. For instance, currently, there are 27 medical and dental schools fully accredited by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. They will produce 2, 550 medical practitioners and 175 dentists per year. There are four partially accredited medical schools, with capacity to admit 200 medical students.

The existing Medical Schools, based on statistics from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, admit less than 20 percent of the candidates who are qualified and are applying to study Medicine. Each school has its quota; the reason being that they have to be trained competently based on the facilities available. The duty of the medical school is to produce people with competency skills after graduation. Based on the current statistics, it will take about 100 years to have the number that Nigeria needs, and that is if none of the doctors and new graduates leave the country. No wonder, many Nigerians have turned to India, South Africa and Europe for medical tourism. Other countries realised the need to establish specialised Universities of Health Sciences to meet the health challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Some of the countries, which gravitated towards the establishment of specialized Universities of Health Sciences, are Bangladesh, Pakistan, Austria, Ukraine, Libya, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Gambia, Kenya and Iran.

The establishment of the Federal University of Health Sciences in Otukpo is, therefore, one sure way to expand access for applicants to enjoy University medical education in Nigeria. It is gratifying to note that the Federal Government’s 2016 budget proposals leans heavily in favour of opening up the educational sector. Allocating N369.6 billion to the education sector, the largest in the budget, is clearly indicative of the government’s commitment to improving on the people’s access to quality education.

It is hoped that the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, would join the league of medical Universities that are consciously engaged in medical research and proffering solutions to health challenges in several parts of the world. It is on this premise that we are compelled to appeal to the Federal Government to have a second look and reconsider its stand on the status of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, on its merits.

From the antecedents of similar universities in other parts of the world, there is every hope that the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, would revolutionise the health sector in Nigeria and bring to an end the endless search for medical attention (medical tourism) in other parts of the world with its attendant capital flights from the nation’s distressed treasury. We appeal that the present suspension on the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo be rescinded considering the many advantages and gains derivable from the University.


Professor Agbo of Tafawa Balewa University of Technology, Bauchi is Secretary, League of Idoma Professors.