Nigeria should work towards striking a balance between the number of people travelling in and out of the country for medical treatment, experts have advised.
They gave the advice yesterday during the ‘All Things Medical’ Conference and Exhibition organized by Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles in collaboration with Prompt Home Health, and other partners in Abuja.
Speaking separately at the conference themed “Celebrating Nigeria’s Medical Care: Why bother to go outside?” the Minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the founder, Nisa Premier Hospital, Dr Ibrahim Wada, said Nigeria could also be a tourist hub for people to travel to from all parts of the world for treatment.
Dr Ibrahim Wada said over 50 percent of the world are traveling for medical care and 150,000 Americans travel outside the USA for medical care yearly, adding that it would be deceptive for anyone to think that in 20 years’ time Nigerians would not be traveling abroad for medical care as the world has become a small village.
He said the problem with Nigeria was that more people were leaving the country for medical attention than those coming into the country for medical services.
He said: “Medical travel is a historical part of human existence and globalization is facilitating the phenomenon. In Nigerian history, people travelled from one place to the other in search of better traditional care in the olden days.
“We should think of what we need to improve our health care services and facilities that will attract people to our country for such services. What we should do now is to strike a balance to see that the number of those traveling for medical services equate those coming into the country too. If we do that, then we are on the part of economy growth and tracking resources.”
Minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole said that as oil prices are falling, and budgetary allocation dwindling, reversing medical tourism and making Nigeria the hub of medical tourism would result in a diversified economy.
Represented by Dr Omobolanle Olowu Head, Public Private Partnership in Diaspora Unit in the ministry, he said with adequate financing and the willingness of Nigeria’s health professionals in the diaspora to return home to contribute their quota, Nigeria can become the hub for medical tourism on the African continent.
He advised that Nigeria should also borrow a leaf from Malaysia, Singapore and India by repositioning our health industry to meet up with world standard and make Nigeria a medical tourist hub which will further strengthen the economy and earn it billions of dollars annually.
The Associate Director, Business & Strategy, Media Trust Limited, Aliu Akoshile, who spoke on behalf of the organization at the event, said for seven years the company has been giving scholarship to female medical students in some universities in Nigeria with over 100 beneficiaries, adding that the company is concerned about the physical and mental fitness of its readers and Nigerians.
He said, “we are worried about the quantum of money being spent outside the shores of this country by people looking for solutions to medical ailments and we believe that we have capable medical facilities that can take care of these things in Nigeria and that is why we support this platform to give us the opportunity to showcase what Nigeria can offer in terms of medical solutions to ailments.”