By Ike Uchechukwu
In an effort to boost quality health-care delivery in as well as attract medical tourism into Nigeria, the Cross River Caucus Chairman in the National Assembly, Sen. Gershom Bassey has called for the establishment of six specialist hospitals in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Bassey who represents Cross River South Senatorial in the Senate, said the just established Navy Hospital in Calabar is world class and there is need for adequate funding through a budget provision by the federal government.
In a phone interview with some newsmen in Calabar, Bassey who has tacitly indicated interest to enter the 2023 governorship race in Cross River, said, “there should be a minimum of six special and well equipped hospitals in the six geo-political zones of the country and whatever we can do to improve health care in our country is welcomed”.
He explained that the time has come for us to lift the country’s health sector to an international standard but said he will not subscribe to the idea of banning political office holders including the president from going abroad for medical treatment as a way of boosting our health system.
According to him :”It is unconstitutional, however I would expect that if facilities are available and meet international standards then all leaders starting with whoever is the sitting President would lead by example by patronizing such facilities”.
“We can make it the equivalent of the Walter Reed Hospital in the United States. This is the hospital all us, presidents use exclusively.
“So with the situation with some of our top government officials it could stem the tide of medical tourism…In the short term any amount to assist with immediate needs but my hope is that in the medium term it will be funded to the level as the hospital was originally conceived,” he said.
Recall that Bassey had in his contribution at the Senate Committee on Appropriation recently, made a case for additional funding for the Navy hospital stating that the original intention was to make it equivalent of the Walter Reed hospital in America.
“That hospital was completed recently and has been working for a few years now and I am very impressed that even after completion, the way that hospital is run is first class and so my question is I do not see any provision in this budget for that hospital.
“I am wondering if the hospital is part of the Navy budget or part of the Ministry of Health budget or is it being run as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) because I have had cause to take people there and from the gate of the hospital to where you have operation and all is fantastic and it is one of the best in Nigeria that I have been to.
“My question is, are we watching out and providing funding for that hospital because it needs to be supported, funded and encouraged,” he said .