August 23, 2017

Nigeria loses $1bn annually to medical tourism — Omatseye

By Prince Okafor

President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria, HFN, Mrs. Clare Omatseye, yesterday disclosed that a total of one billion dollars is lost annually to medical tourism in Nigeria even as she lamented inadequate investment in the nation’s healthcare system.

Speaking during the 5th edition of ‘The August Event’ by the Moses Adekoyejo Majedunmi Foundation, MAMF, with the theme: “Health; A National Challenge: Restructuring and Driving Sustainable Growth”, in Lagos, Omatseye  who traced the failure of the health system on  medical tourism embarked upon by most prominent Nigerians said the country has suffered from severe brain drain along with patient drains.

Her words: “In the last couple of decades, due to lack of investment in health care in our country, we have had a brain drain, where we have lost a lot of our good doctors. Currently, we are suffering from patients’ drain, where there is a lack of confidence in the sector, and people are now leaving for medical tourism, where we lose over one billion dollars annually.

“There are about 37, 000 Nigerian doctors in diaspora, with about 30, 000 Nigerian doctors in the United States, and over 5, 000 in the United Kingdom.  We have almost equal number of doctors abroad that we have in country,”  she lamented,” she said.

Omatseye posited out that to keep back such amount of money in the country, there is need to create enabling environment for private sector to thrive.

Advocating for public private partnership, she said: “To achieve this, we need to create enabling environment, the two policies recently passed by the National Council for Health in Abakalike, which include the incentivising health care investment policy and the new public private partnership policy will make it easier to do business in Nigeria. It will make it easier for the private sectors partner with the public sector protecting their interest and give Nigerians access to quality health care.