Nigeria loses N250bn yearly to medical tourism …. PUNCH

President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Kayode Obembe

The Nigerian Medical Association has said that Nigeria has been losing about N250bn annually to foreign medical tourism.

The NMA President, Dr. Kayode Obembe, who read the association’s communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council meeting in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, said such an alarming loss was inimical to the growth of the health sector and national development.

According to him, the solution to the loss is that all tertiary health institutions in the country should be well provided with modern equipment to replace the obsolete ones.

He said that was the reason the NMA had been clamouring for the post of Surgeon General, which he said was paramount in the nation’s health system.

He argued, “If there is the Attorney General of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Surveyor General and Auditor General, there is no justifiable reason why there should not be Surgeon General.”

He also advised Buhari to appoint a medical doctor as the Minister of Health.

The NMA president urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the Federal Government’s probes extended to the health sector. He said there was also corruption in the sector.

He said, “The amount Nigeria is losing annually on medical tourism is alarmingly N250bn. The NMA congratulates President Buhari on his efforts to eradicate corruption from the fabrics of the economy. The NMA is in full support of this move. We expect that this move should be extended to all sectors, including health.

“The NMA is poised to eradicate measles from Nigeria. We have kicked out polio and Ebola. Everybody should join hands with the NMA to achieve this. Therefore, our Physicians Week in October shall focus on measles.

“We know that President Muhammadu Buhari has respect for human lives; hence, doctors who take care of the sick must be accorded priority in the scheme of things. We hereby implore the President to appoint a medical doctor as the Minister of Health. We also implore him to bring out the white paper on Yayale Ahmed Report, because this will promote industrial harmony in the health sector.“

Obembe said the NMA was very concerned with the incessant strikes that had bedevilled the health sector which, according to him, was due to the fact that circulars issued by the government were not allegedly cash backed.

He stated that in the interim, supplementary allocation should be made to pay for such commitments while on a long-term basis, it must be clearly defined as a budget heading in 2016 appropriation.

The NMA boss said the association was completely opposed to giving out girls in marriage before the age of 18 years, because before that age, the bony system of the girl has not fully developed.

According to him, scientifically, this practice should be condemned as the birth canal will be very narrow for the head of the baby to pass through during labour.

He said such birth process could lead to Vesico Virginal Fistula.

Obembe called on other practitioners and moderators to be careful of their unnecessary intrusion of the hospital environment.

He said, “We appeal to all men of good will to impress on our government and policy makers to rescue our female children from this miserable life and ultimate disaster.

“The NMA is worried at the rate at which the so called regulatory bodies, apart from Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, invade our hospitals.”