Striking Doctors To N/Assembly: Ban Govt Officials From Medical Tourism
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has called on the National Assembly to ban public officials from seeking medical treatment abroad.
Leaders of the association made the call at the onset of their nationwide strike on Thursday, three days after President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to London for a medical check-up.
President of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, made the call on the urgent need to ban officials from traveling abroad for medical purposes during an interview with Daily Trust in Abuja.
He said doing so will bring the desired improvement in the country’s health sector and also save the lives of millions of poor Nigerians who do not have the means of traveling abroad to attend to their health challenges.
Dr Okhuaihesuyi said: “If medical tourism is banned in Nigeria, it will encourage the public officials to be able to develop the health system in the country.”
Asked if that would not put many lives at risk considering the poor state of the country’s health system, and the fact that many people who embark on medical tourism do so for serious and chronic diseases such as kidney, cancer and heart diseases, among others, he said: “We have one of the best set of health workers in the world, and that is why most countries tend to scavenge on doctors in Nigeria.
“What the government needs to do is to make the hospital functional, provide equipment such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), CT Scan, radiotherapy machines, and to make their lives comfortable. Nigerians will not need to travel anywhere,” he added.
He said if the N576 billion being spent on medical tourism is deployed in renovating health infrastructure and improving service delivery, the country’s health sector would be better for it. “There is a need for government to make health a priority,” he said.
Nigeria is estimated to lose over $ 1 billion dollars to medical tourism annually. The amount many times exceeded the total amount allocated to the health sector in yearly budgets in the country.