$1bn capital flight to medical tourism give impetus for fresh 10,000 health centres

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An estimated annual $1billion capital flight lost to medical tourism has given impetus to the federal government to plan additional 10,000 healthcare centres across the country.

Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, on a familiarisation visit to the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Thursday building more healthcare centres would reduce pressure on tertiary health institutions.

He noted that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was committed to tackling medical tourism. India, Dubai and Europe have become medical destination for Nigerians seeking better healthcare services. This has led to huge capital flight from the economy.

The over 10,000 functional primary healthcare centres being planned for various parts of the country, the minister said, will help to reduce the pressure on tertiary health institutions, which would be repositioned to address health challenges often treated in foreign countries.

“We are losing estimated one billion dollars on Nigerians going abroad to get treatment. We have tertiary hospitals that should be good enough to handle what most Nigerians go abroad for.

“What we should do is to ensure training and retraining of staff, provide equipment and ensure proper modern service delivery; we must have patient-centred healthcare service,” he said. Ehanire pointed out that the Federal Government was trying hard to generate resources from all areas to fund the health sector amidst the competing needs and priorities of the nation.

Dapo Sotiloye, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, said the hospital needed funds for some of its vital capital projects, including completion of water schemes, reticulation of electricity, among others.

He said that within its short period of existence, the hospital has impacted positively on the growth of medicine in the country and has earned some local and international recognition.

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