Medical doctors in the country have faulted the recent medical trips embarked upon by prominent citizens on the premise that the disease conditions could be managed by any hospitals across the federation.
The medics, who include the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Francis Faduyile; and his National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) counterpart, Dr. Segun Olaopa, submitted that doctors and most hospitals in the country could manage all medical conditions.
Faduyile and Olaopa said the Federal Government and some prominent Nigerians were wasting scarce resources going abroad for medical treatment.
They said the situation was more of attitude and choice for medical tourism rather than that of not having the personnel and facilities to handle the ailments.
They regretted the case of the Shiites’ leader, Ibraheem El-Zakyzaky, who was flown to India for treatment and the frequent trips by President Muhammadu Buhari to the United Kingdom for medicare.
The surgeons said one thing that needed to be emphasized was that India where Nigerians run to seek medical attention does not have more expertise “even though we may lack the facility and necessary motivation.”
President Buhari, had before his election, promised to end medical tourism by politicians.
It is estimated that Nigerians spend $2.5 billion (about N1.25 trillion) yearly on foreign medical trips, most of which cases could be handled here at home.
Olaopa, who is a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, said: “The problem of medical tourism has gone beyond a simple explanation of seeking medical care. Among the political class and public service circle, it has become fashion and escape route for vacation. The most unfortunate situation here is that taxpayers’ monies are used for these adventures.”
Buhari had also in April 2016 said the Federal Government would not provide funds to any official to travel abroad for medical treatment unless the case could not be handled in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, he broke the promise barely a month later when he was flown to London to be treated for an ear infection.
Former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had equally in October 2016 told journalists in Lagos that medical tourism was a scam. He said the trips to the Asian nation were a racket and the country loses billions of naira yearly to the ‘fraud’.
A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem.
But barely three months on, the president was back to the United Kingdom for a prolonged medical vacation.