Fact-Check: Nigeria, UK didn’t sign deal on 10-year bond for Nigerian doctors
By Daniel Adaji
In late October 2022, as the issue of brain drain of medical and health workers, especially to the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirate (UAE), generated discussion on traditional and social media, one twitter user @doctorisonu posted a message that caused a stir in the medical world.
On his handle @doctorisonu, he claimed that the Medical and Dental Council on Nigeria had signed a bilateral agreement with the UK to say Nigerian doctors should not be employed in the European country unless they had worked in Nigeria for a decade.
The twitter user @doctorisonu with twitter ID 1284775503279382530 by name Dr. Timothy Akinbade, a supposed Consultant and Obstetrician without trace to any hospital or medical institution in or outside Nigeria, claimed that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) visited the General Medical Council Office in Manchester, UK and signed a bilateral agreement that “all Nigeria-trained doctors must practice in Nigeria for at least 10 years before being qualified to live or work in the UK.”
The tweet reads “Today 26-10-2022, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria visited General Medical Council office in Manchester, UK. There was a bilateral agreement that all Nigerian–trained doctors must practice for at least 10 years before being qualified to live and work in the UK.
“This decision was reached as an emergency to mitigate the problem of massive brain drain of medical professionals. Recall that the doctor, patient ratio in Nigeria last published by Nigeria Medical Council was 1:10,000 which is a far cry from 1:600 recommended by World Health Organisation, WHO. The Nursing and Midwifery council has also been challenged to take immediate steps to prevent the looming health crises about to hit over 200 Million Nigerians.”
A preliminary check on the twitter account revealed that the account had existed for less than two years on twitter and has garnered as many as 37,779 followers. A further check done on the it showed it must have been compromised because the contents are not consistent with the image portrayed by the said owner as a medical doctor.
Further, Botomer a tool which is a joint project of the Observatory on Social Media (OSoMe) and the Network Science Institute (UNI) at the Indiana University was used to detect “bot” activities on the twitter account. Botometer revealed that the account @doctorisonu has an echo-chamber and fake followers of 1.6. This shows the possibility “bot” or same accounts following one another.
Although the council visited the GMC but did not enter into any form of agreement
An eco-chamber is an environment where a person encounters information or opinions that reflect their own. Echo-chamber can create disinformation and distort a person’s perspective so they have difficulty considering opposing viewpoints and discussing complicated topics. They are fueled by confirmation bias, which is the tendency to reinforce existing beliefs.
The tool further revealed that most of the followers are fake with a particular one @alfreldaniel7 scoring 4.8/5 making it extremely fake.
A check on the MDCN website revealed that although the council visited the GMC but did not enter into any form of agreement. They refuted the claim on facebook and in a Dailypost publication, The MDCN was quoted as saying “the social media was flooded with fake news and misinterpretations over the MDCN’s visit to the @gmcuk General Medical Council, UK.
“We had a lot of useful discussions among which was the possibility of the UK government to repatriate some funds in line with global health initiatives from Nigerian doctors who were trained with taxpayers fund.
Discussions around stemming the tide of brain drain also took place
“Discussions around stemming the tide of brain drain also took place. Therefore, the rumour about the bilateral agreement that all Nigerian-trained doctors must practice for at least 10 years before being qualified to live or work in the UK or elsewhere is FALSE, uncalled for, mischievous and should be totally disregarded. However, no form of agreement was signed.”
The council also replied to the twit and asked the account owner to take down the post.
VERDICT: Based on results from the forensic analysis and the counter claim by the MDCN, the claim that MDCN signed a bilateral agreement with GMC that all Nigerian–trained doctors must practice for at least 10 years before being qualified to live and work in the UK is FALSE.