Since 2020, the Lagos State government, through the Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA), shut down hospitals based on non-compliance to Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria’s (MDCN) guidelines on expatriate doctors engagement.

According to the Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr. Abiola Idowu, hospitals were shut down for employing expatriates that were not certified to practice locally. The chairperson of HEFAMAA, Dr. Yemisi Solanke-Koya also noted that such practice has been going on clandestinely for a while, and such actions raise concerns regarding the regulatory oversight of healthcare in the State. However, some hospitals concerned have now announced that the expatriates engaged have now been certified locally by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) and other regulatory bodies.1 Nevertheless, it appears that many other hospitals continue to engage foreign doctors without complying with MDCN’s guidelines.

The Difficult Dialogue

Some commentators appear to blame the Lagos Government on the rationality of shutting down hospitals that seek foreign experts. It is argued that most Nigerian medical professionals are relocating abroad. In the absence of enough qualified practitioners, it only seemed reasonable that foreign help should be embraced. Others believed that the actions of the Government through HEFAMAA should be applauded as it saves the sovereignty of the country as well as the security of jobs. Such actions, it is believed, safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of Lagosians and hold the facilities engaging Foreign-Based Transient Medical Doctors (FBTMDs) accountable.

On the other hand, some hospitals are lamenting over the lack or shortage of experts in certain medical fields in Nigeria. If saving lives means welcoming foreign practitioners, then that is what the oath demands, they argue. However, the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Professor Akin Abayomi has directed HEFAMAA to implement an FBTMD policy that will ensure that FBTMDs are approved by the Federal Body – MDCN, to practice medicine in the State, provided such persons also register with HEFAMAA prior to their medical practice in the State.

In the light of the foregoing, it has become expedient to recollect the provisions of the laws regulating these actions and to guide or proffer practical solutions to FBTMDs, healthcare providers, and regulators. That is the purpose of this article.

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