In a decision that has hit many students badly, the Nigerian medical regulatory body has announced that it will not recognise medical and dental degree certificates issued by Ukrainian universities from 2022.
This move means that Nigerian medical students who graduate from any Ukrainian university from 2022 onwards will not be allowed to sit the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) examinations, which is a prerequisite for obtaining a licence and practising in Nigeria.
In a statement issued on 18 June 2022, the MDCN premised its decision on the ongoing war in Ukraine, stating that its decision was guided by the information that some students are carrying out online medical training organised by schools in Ukraine, China, and other countries.
The council said medical students studying in Ukrainian universities would have to wait until the war is over and physical classes resume, emphasising that online medical training does not meet acceptable standards and will, thus, not be recognised.
“[The] council, however, advises students who are currently studying medicine or dentistry in Ukrainian medical schools to seek transfer to other accredited medical or dental schools in other countries for the completion of their programmes,” the MDCN added.
Petition against MDCN decision
Naturally, the MDCN’s decision did not go down well with the affected students and has resulted in a petition on Change.org, a global petition website operating from San Francisco in the US.
The petition was started on behalf of the Nigerian Final Year Medical Student Community from Ukraine by Oru Dominic, a sixth-year medical student at Ternopil National Medical University, who was two months away from completing his medical degree when Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
In the petition, Dominic labelled the MDCN’s decision as “injustice and hatred for foreign-trained doctors”.
“We did not cause the war and should not be punished for it. Besides, the war started three months ago [whereas] for the past six years, we have been having our classes and clinical rotations (except for when COVID-19 first set in),” he wrote.
The medical students asked the MDCN to give them the chance to prove that they have truly been trained and educated just like everyone else.
“Denying us the right to take this exam just because we took some classes on differential diagnosis online, would not only have a devastating impact on us as students, but it will also have adverse effects on the health sector, which is currently short-staffed.
“It would be a gross injustice to us that, despite being traumatised, surviving a war and completing our medical education, our own country’s board is denying us the dream we have poured so much blood and sweat into. It would also be unfair to our parents and sponsors that have spent millions of naira to ensure that our dream of being doctors becomes a reality,” Dominic said.
The petition, which has garnered about 3,000 signatures, is addressed to the Nigerian government as well as the international medical community.