The Federal Government is to end medical tourism to Europe, America and Asia in 2017, the Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said.
Adewole, who stated this on Friday during a one-day working visit to the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, explained that medical tourism to foreign countries was a serious drain on the country’s resources.
He said the Federal Government would partner Akwa Ibom State government and inject resources into the Ibom Specialist Hospital as a step towards ending medical tourism.
He had called on the Executive Director of Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority to add the hospital to the list of facilities that would be upgraded in 2016.
“With Ibom Specialist Hospital, I will certainly not approve that any Nigerian should use government resources to go abroad for treatment. I am also calling on the commissioner, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, to partner us; we have developed guidelines for ensuring that we do not allow people to go abroad for diseases that can be managed in this country.
“It is a significant drain on the nation’s resources when you know how much civil and public servants collect to go to India and other places. Even for myomectomy someone is asking for N10m to go to India and this is something that is done in Lagos for N150,000, yet someone spends N10m for the same thing to go to India.
“We know it is a syndicate and I want to also plead with my colleagues. I learnt that for each four cases they send to India, they collect the money for the fifth one. We must stop it; for every little case, government officials want to go to India for treatment,” Adewole said.
He stated that the Federal Government was committed to making sure that the Ibom Specialist Hospital worked so that the country could put an end to medical tourism, while people from other West African countries would come to Nigeria for treatment.
The Chief Medical Director of UUTH, Prof. Etete Peters, said there was paucity of funds for the hospital to complete the ongoing projects as well as procure medical equipment.
He added that the capital budget performance of the hospital in the last two years was less than 30 per cent of the appropriation.
According to him, the hospital is also plagued with shortage of manpower following massive retirement of nurses and other employees.
He added that lack of funds had prevented the recruitment of 141 medical personnel of various cadres, especially nurses and resident doctor.
Peters requested the minister’s permission to employ five consultants to fill core clinical areas which have no consultants. And these, he said, include a neurosurgeon, chemical pathologist, dental surgeon, endocrinologist, and a pathologist.