The United Kingdom has introduced a new policy in a bid to restrict the recruitment of doctors from Nigeria and other developing countries. The policy does not, however, bar Nigerian doctors from migrating to the UK. This is according to a statement by the UK government issued on 25 February 2021. The updated code of practice, which will help to meet the UK’s target of delivering 50,000 more nurses by 2024, is expected to affect 47 countries especially Nigeria, which has the third-largest number of migrant doctors in the UK. The list also showed that almost all the countries affected are in Africa. They include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Guinea-Bissau and Haiti. Some others affected include Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo Uganda, Vanuatu and Yemen. The UK said the new policy was in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation. The statement read in part, “To align with the WHO, the new code refers to the WHO Health Workforce Support and safeguard List, 2020 of 47 countries where active recruitment can’t be undertaken. “This replaces the previous UK-held list of 152 countries and removes confusion which can arise from the UK holding a separate list of countries. UK recruiters are not permitted to actively recruit from these countries unless there is a government to government agreement in place for managed recruitment.” There are currently over 8,000 Nigerian trained doctors in the UK, according to data from the UK General Medical Council, the government body that maintains the country’s official register of medical practitioners. In Nigeria, the Deputy Director, Human Resources, at the Federal Ministry of Health, Shakuri Kadiri said the country’s health sector recorded an increase in the number of doctors seeking migration from 656 in 2014 to 1,551 in 2018. The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria puts the total number of registered doctors in Nigeria at 74,543 for the country’s population of about 200 million. This translates to a doctor-patient ratio of 1:3,500, well below the WHO’s recommendation of 1:600.

The Niger State government has announced that all public secondary schools in the state will be closed from Friday, 12 to 26 March 2021. The directive is to enable security agencies to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of all public secondary schools in the state. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the state Public Enlightenment Unit on social media on Thursday. “Please be informed that the Niger State Government has directed that all public Secondary schools in the state be closed from March 12th to 26th, 2021. “This is to enable security agencies to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of all public Secondary schools. “When completed, the exercise will provide an all-inclusive mechanism and strategies that will restore and guarantee sustainable security and safety of students, schools’ infrastructure, education managers and teachers in Niger state,” the statement said. According to a statement by the Information Officer, Niger State Ministry Of Education, Jibrin Usman Kodo, the closure, when concluded, will restore and guarantee sustainable security and safety of students, school infrastructure, education managers, and teachers in the state. “The Commissioner used the opportunity to commend Education actors, Parents, and communities for their patience, understanding, and support in this trying time.

The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, says more than ₦41.06 billion in UBEC matching grants has not been accessed despite the poor state of many primary schools across the country. Bobboyi disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday while presenting the 2020 Capital Budget Performance to the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education. Giving a breakdown of matching grant implementation by states since 2017, he said while 32 states and the FCT implemented their 2017 projects, four states had yet to do that – Anambra, Imo, Kaduna and Kwara. He also said that 30 states and the Federal Capital Territory implemented matching grants projects in 2018, but six states – Anambra, Imo, Kaduna, Kwara, Ogun and Plateau – had yet to implement them. “Eight states have implemented the 2019 matching grants projects, 28 states and FCT have yet to implement them. In 2020, no state implemented the matching grants projects,” he said. Bobboyi further explained that states had yet to access the 2020 grants because it was only opened for access towards the end of the year. He said over ₦29.75 billion was received by the commission, representing 99.92 per cent as of Dec. 31, 2020, while contracts worth over ₦27.57 billion were awarded for the 2,895 constituency projects. The executive secretary added that out of the 2,895 constituency projects awarded, 939 had been completed as of March 8, 2021, while a total of 1,956 projects were ongoing. On fund utilisation, Bobboyi said over ₦5.35 billion representing 18 per cent had been utilised as of March 2021. He however lamented that many challenges, including disruption of academic activities due to COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the release of capital allocation during the year. He also said general insecurity in some parts of the country militates against the successful implementation of the budgets.

The Biden administration’s new envoy to the United Nations is seeking to dial up the pressure on countries like Ethiopia and Yemen to end their conflicts as growing humanitarian crises amid a global pandemic push millions to the brink of starvation. The U.S., which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, was joined by Ireland and other council members in pressing Ethiopia’s government to end a war that’s been raging in its northern Tigray region, warning that vast numbers of displaced people run the risk of starvation. “Fighting in the Tigray region over the past four months has driven innocent citizens to the brink. Food stocks are depleted. Acute malnutrition is rising,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said at a council meeting on Thursday. “We cannot allow this situation to deteriorate further.” The U.S. ambassador has made humanitarian crises a key part of her focus at the UN, but a deadlock in the Security Council has impeded meaningful action from Ethiopia to Syria to Myanmar. Diplomats have so far failed to negotiate a council statement calling to end the violence in Ethiopia because of objections from China, Russia and India to a statement drafted by Ireland. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for $5.5 billion in funding to avert catastrophe for 34 million people around the world facing food insecurity. “I am deeply concerned about the situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, where the harvest season has been disrupted by insecurity and violence, and hundreds of thousands of people could be experiencing hunger,” he told the council.” In Yemen, five years of conflict have displaced 4 million people across the country. Many Yemenis are facing a death sentence as widespread hunger stalks their nation.” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered an incursion into Tigray on Nov. 3 after regional forces attacked a federal military camp in the region, the culmination of months of tension between the national government and provincial authorities. While Abiy declared victory on Nov. 28, fighting has persisted and UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council earlier this month there was a growing risk of famine.