Minister of State for Health, Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has expressed worry at the huge capital flight being incurred by the country through foreign medical trips which at present is estimated at N80 billion annually.
A statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneukwu, the party said its attention has been drawn to a media report concerning a revelation by the Senate Committee on Health that the country is losing N80 billion annually to medical trips abroad by Nigerians.
It also said the report quoted the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate, as having disclosed that the Ministry of Health got N278 billion in the 2013 budget, out of which N14.5 billion was for capital expenditure.
While condemning the rush for foreign medical trips, the party regretted that it is only a few affluent Nigerians that can afford it, thus leaving the rest to contend with the neglected and poorly equipped health facilities.
ANPP said it was abominable that government officials abandon health reforms in Nigeria, in their misguided confidence that they could always buy proper medical treatment overseas.
“We believe that health is not the prerogative of the rich only; it is the right of every living Nigerian. Furthermore, it is unacceptable for the government to map out a budget for the health sector with less than ten percent for capital expenditure.
“Capital projects are needed for innovative intervention in the diminishing health status of the Nigerian people. Is it not a shame for a manifest giant of Africa that life expectancy in Nigeria is now 47 years, making it the lowest among West African countries?”
ANPP said the situation is attributable to some health factors, including high death rates in children and women, spread of polio virus and deaths due to carnage on Nigerian roads and other epidemics.
It added that the horrible statistic is a direct result of the country’s inefficient health system, which is getting worse by the day. In saner climes this is enough to make a government either bow out or own up to the abuse of the people’s mandate.
“ANPP urged the National Assembly to have health reform entrenched in the ongoing constitution amendment as this is the only way to ensure that “Nigerians get basic minimum package of health that is affordable and accessible.
“ What is more, we urge the Senate to fast-track the passage of the revised version of the long overdue National Health Bill. Our party believes that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, and a reformed health sector will give the nation a new lease of life, where the innate productiveness of the great Nigerian people shall be tapped for the good of all, and the building of our great country, “ it said.