By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the Federal Government is succeeding in its quest to reduce the spate of medical tourism among Nigerians.
He said this during the weekend at the unveiling of Kelina Hospital’s state-of-the-art laser equipment for minimal access surgeries in Abuja.
The Minister said recent reports from health facilities across the country show an increasing number of Nigerians abroad on medical vacation were returning to home to continue their health procedures owing to measures put in place by government to reduce the cost of accessing treatment for various ailments.
Adewole, who was represented by National Hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Dr. Jafaru Momoh, also said the Federal Government was upgrading eight hospitals in various specialties to invigorate government’s efforts at reversing the nation’s ugly trend of medical tourism.
He said: “We are already reversing medical tourism. We have been able to observe that more people are returning from India and the Middle East to continue their treatments at home because they are beginning to realise it is cheaper to have their medical procedures in Nigeria.
“Cancer is one of the major reasons people travel abroad for treatment. But, the government is upgrading eight hospitals in different specialties to cater for the needs of those who travel abroad for medical treatment.
“Two of the hospitals are already on stream. The Lagos University Teaching Hospital, the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital, and the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital will soon come on stream.
“By the time all the eight hospitals are on stream, there will be a further reduction in medical tourism among Nigerians.
“However, we must bear in mind that there will be people who for the sake of privacy and other personal preferences will still opt for treatment abroad.”
The Minister further disclosed that the government had strengthened the Bank of Industry (BoI) to provide loans at discounted rates to private hospitals in the country as a way of supporting the upgrading of their equipment and facilities.
Speaking also, consultant urological surgeon, Dr. Ukelina Undie, stressed the need for more health professional to venture into private practice in order to supplement government’s efforts in curbing the menace of medical tourism.
“The budget for health is not enough to give us what we desire as a nation for the health sector. So, we need more doctors and health workers o come on board and create the environment to improve the health infrastructure in the country,” Dr. Undie said