Former Minister of Health says Nigeria loses N175bn to medical tourism

The Former Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said that Nigeria loses about N175 billion annually to medical tourism.

Prof. Chukwu made the claim at the opening of the 2017 Faculty of Clinical Sciences 10th Faculty Week & Scientific Conference, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, yesterday, with the theme: “Medical Tourism in Nigeria”.

He explained that the wasted fund was more than 50 per cent of the proposed total budget for 2018 for the federal health sector.

According to him, the health sector is being denied the much needed funding which is affecting its development.

“Skill proficiency becomes a victim as both trainers and trainees are not exposed to enough cases and of course the quality of care ultimately suffers.

“As outbound medical tourism gradually becomes the preference of patients, the local sector loses the confidence of the populace resulting in low esteem and loss of morale among the health personnel, ” he said.

He called on the federal government to support the health sector by providing standard medical equipment that will compete  with those found outside Nigeria, so that people will partronise local medical facilities.

Also, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, the Group Chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance PLC, Lagos, called on the federal government to address the issue of medical tourism.

Ogunbiyi said that Nigerian leaders needed to  release enough fund and provide modern equipment that would  boost the  health sector.

He added that Nigeria has competent profesdionals that are qualified to treat all ailments, and called on  the government to standardise the health sector.

In her remarks, the Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, OAU, Ife, Prof Bernice Adegbehingbe, said the theme of the week was carefully selected because of the realisation that medical tourism was a threat to the delivery health care services.

She canvassed for  public private partnerships in funding of highly sophisticated diagnosis tools, adding that development of innovative procedures and treatment must also be encouraged.

The University don said a lot of advancement had been introduced into health care delivery service across the nation, but awareness remained generally low due to restriction on advertisements.

She urged the government to allow medical practitioners to educate Nigerians on services they offer as obtained in foreign medical centres.

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