Nigeria will not accept medical and dental degrees from Ukrainian universities obtained from 2022, the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council (MDCN) has said.
“We wish to inform the General Public that Medical and Dental Degree Certificates issued by Medical Schools from Ukraine from 2022 will NOT be honoured by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria until when normal academic activities resume,” the council which regulates the medical profession in Nigeria said in a statement published on its official Twitter handle.
The decision is because of the ongoing war in Ukraine that has seen many of its higher institutions closed for physical classes. Many of them are still, however, holding online classes, something the MDCN is against for medical and dental programmes.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Council categorically states that online medical training done in any part of the world is short of acceptable standard and is not recognised by the MDCN,” it said.
The council advised students currently studying medicine or dentistry in Ukrainian medical schools to seek transfer to other accredited institutions in other countries for the completion of their programmes.
Nigerian evacuees from Ukraine lament
Over hundreds of Nigerian students were evacuated from Ukraine when the Russian invasion started.
Some of the returnees, who are affected by the stance of MDCN, have condemned it.
Esther Ebiru, who in June graduated from Dnipro Medical state Ukraine in an online graduation ceremony, called the MDCN’s policy inhumane.
“This policy is inhumane. It is devastating because we did not study online for six years, it is only a few months in 2020 due to Covid which happened all over the world and the remaining three months,” she said.
“I am clearly devastated and tired. I cannot imagine waiting for this war to be over or restarting again.
“I finished high school quite early, I joined the RSSDA scholarship two years after high school. Wrote every necessary exam. I was promised to start medicine in Germany.
“My parents even went ahead to pay for German classes. The scholarship was later cancelled due to the political instability in Rivers State at the time. My parents had to struggle to make my medical dreams come true and send me to Ukraine,” Ms Ebiru narrated.
According to her, she left high school over 10 years ago “only for me to come back to the same limiting policy. It seems like the Nigerian govt and environment don’t want me to move further.”
Ms Ebiru said that unlike in Nigeria, her colleagues from Ghana and UK are moving on with their dreams just fine.
She told reporters that in a bid to familiarise herself with the medical atmosphere in Nigeria, when she returned to the country in March, she paid for a clinical attachment which commenced in April.
“I did one month of gynaecology and one month of paediatrics. I am now on internal medicine which I opted for two weeks because I decided that by July 11th, I’ll register for the MDCN exam tutorials before this news broke out last Friday,” she said.
Another returnee medical student who sought anonymity asked this reporter rhetorically how a six-year programme can be cancelled because of three months of elective courses taken online.
“I was astonished and in reading the insensitive MDCN advertorial discrediting our medical degrees from Ukraine, China and other unspecified countries and thereby denying us the opportunity to practice in our country,” he said.
MDCN reaffirms position
When contacted, Tajudeen Sanusi, MDCN’s registrar, said the council’s position was to protect Nigerians.
“Tell me anywhere in the world where they are studying medicine online. When you have your lectures in the classroom, you move to the hospital which is the most important…,” he said.
When this reporter reminded him that the online classes were as a result of the war in Ukraine, he asked again, “was there no war in Sierra Leone and Liberia before? Why did they not study online there?”
“We have made provision for whoever wants to transfer to Nigerian university medical college, so why are they doing online? You want to put the health of Nigerians and other people living in this country in jeopardy? I won’t do that,” Mr Sanusi said.
When this reporter asked him to shed more light on the provision to enrol the returnees in medical schools in Nigeria, he said, “I am not the one who will call them, they are the ones to apply.”
He noted that the students should apply to the medical schools and if the institutions have spaces, they can be enrolled.
“When the students were going, did they tell anybody?… Did they tell me they were going anywhere? Do I have their record that they are anywhere?” Mr Sanusi asked rhetorically.