By Abba Gwale
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has called on the National Assembly to ban government officials from foreign medical trips
The President of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, made the call on the urgent need to ban officials from traveling abroad for medical purposes.
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.
“If medical tourism is banned in Nigeria, it will encourage the public officials to be able to develop the health system in the country,” he said.
He added that “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 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 continued.
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.
Many Nigerians who travel out of the country for their medical needs often have to go back monthly for check-ups and sometimes for corrective surgery.
However, medical tourism witnessed a decline in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and due to the closure of international borders.
During the period, many Nigerians including public office holders were forced to access care in Nigerian hospitals for some months.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier this week travelled to United Kingdom (UK), for medical check-up.