The Convener of YesWeFit Revolutionary Movement and former Presidential Aspirant, Dr Thomas-Wilson Ikubese has lamented the frequent travelling of Nigerian elites abroad for Medical treatment, citing the recent travelling of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria( IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife Zinat to India.
In a statement to newsmen on Tuesday, Dr. Ikubese said Just a couple of years ago, India was on the same pedestal with Nigeria but today, India has become the country of Nigerian medical tourists just because the government of India created an enabling ground for private hospitals in India to grow.
He said if Nigerian government gives the needed incentive to the private health sector in Nigeria, then the country will overtake India and become the destination for medical tourism globally because, according to him, “Nigeria has abundant qualified personnel, who but lack the financial muscle to set up 5 star private hospitals.”
Below is the full statement:
“A few days ago, a Kaduna High Court granted leave to leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zinat, to travel abroad for medical treatment
Consequent upon this position, El Zakzaky boarded the flight on his trip for medical treatment, not to America or Europe, but to INDIA!!!
Just a couple of years ago, India was on the same pedestal with Nigeria.
Today, it’s the home of Medical Tourism.
It’s imperative to state here that the majority of hospitals that patients visit in India for Medical Tourism are not owned by government. They are Private Hospitals!!!
The government of India went out of its way to empower the private health sector with policy incentives.
The result is what we are seeing today- patients from around the world flying across many seas to access healthcare in India, a country that only recently was overtaken by Nigeria as home to the highest number of poor people on earth.
When India became independent of British rule in 1947, the private health sector provided only 5-10% of total patient care. Today, it accounts for 82% of outpatient visits, 58% of inpatient expenditure, and 40% of births in institutions.
Spending on health in the public sector has not been a priority for successive governments in India, a situation that calls for knocks on the Indian governments, though they have encouraged the growth of the private sector tremendously.
They have subsidised the private sector by releasing prime buildings, lands at low rates, exemptions from taxes and duties for importing drugs and high tech medical equipment, and through concessions to doctors setting up private practices and nursing homes.
Here in Nigeria, private hospitals are treated like any other business venture by the Federal and State governments, with multiple taxations and back-breaking policies.
The age long appeal to the Federal government by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Association of General And Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN) for the setting up of dedicated Bank of Health to provide credit facilities at a single digit interest rate to health institutions has not been given a favourable consideration by the powers that be.
If the government gives the needed incentive to the private health sector in Nigeria, we have far more potential to overtake India and become the destination for Medical Tourism globally as Nigeria has abundant qualified personnel, who but lack the financial muscle to set up 5 star private hospitals.
It’s not too late to start, if only we have the political will to start now!