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FG to Ban Medical Treatment Abroad

22 Jan 2013

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Minister of Health, Prof.  Onyebuchi  Chukwu

By Victor Efeizomor

The Federal Government has said that plans have been concluded to place a ban on Nigerians seeking medical treatment that could be handled by some  public and private health facilities in the country abroad.  

The Minister of Health, Prof.  Onyebuchi  Chukwu, who stated this Monday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, during the opening ceremony of the first  Nigerian Medical  Association (NMA)  National  Health  Summit,  said government was no longer comfortable that  Nigerians rush  abroad unnecessarily for health challenges that could be handled in the nation’s public and private facilities.

Chukwu in his key note address said: “The Federal Ministry of Health has also directed that  on no  account  should cases  which  could be handled  by some  of our private  health  facilities  be referred from government   teaching  hospitals  to private  hospitals  overseas.”

He said the Federal Government was working acidulously to ensure that the nation’s health sectors is re-positioned to meet the expected challenges of providing  affordable healthcare for its citizens through the implementation of  Universal  Health  Insurance  Scheme.

He further stated that other measures taken by Federal Government included “provisions  contained  in the National  Health  Bill which is before  the National  Assembly, the current  attempt to establish  a National  Health  Emergency  Fund, the  re-enactment  of the National  Health  Insurance  Act  to make it  compulsory  for all  employers of labour  to buy  health  insurance  for all  employees, the  up-scaling  of  the community -based  health  insurance  and intensifying  marketing  of voluntary contributors social  health  insurance  scheme.”

Chukwu emphasised that for the Federal Government’s  National  Strategic  Health Development  Plans to  be fully  realised, “it needs  to be supported  and protected  by appropriate  constitutional  provision  and relevant  legislation.”

Senate President, Senator  David  Mark, in his remarks,  assured  the health stakeholders of the  support of the senate  for a speedy deliberation on the National Health Bill, adding that the contribution of NMA in  the ongoing constitutional amendment will be giving due consideration.

He condemned the internal wrangling among the health professional, urging them to work towards one objective by shielding their swords, adding that squabbles can derail the programmes and plans of government towards improving healthcare delivery in the country.

Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and his Anambra  State counterpart, Mr.  Peter Obi, canvassed the need for NMA to always result to dialogue rather than recourse to strike which has more negative consequences.  

According to Oshiomhole, “It is  good to  be talking, at the end of the day, something good will come out of it , government and NMA  need to interact  more; if you go on  strike, the common man is affected,” adding that such act was against their professional  oath of office to save life.”

He lamented a situation where some NMA members embark on strike while  patient  die in the hospitals, saying such act on account  of allowance, is  likened to “treason,” because life lost cannot be regained.

He condemned a situation where  government-employed doctors abandon their   hospitals to run private clinics, saying it is against their professional ethics.

The president of the NMA, Dr. Osahon  Enabulele, in his welcome address  pointed out that despite  the efforts  made  by previous and current governments, there  are still   gaps  in the healthcare delivery which he said are traceable to the absence  of a legal and constitutional  framework for health all of which has inhibited  the expected  growth  and development  of Nigeria’s healthcare system.  

Governor Emmnauel Uduaghan on his part, lamented the level of quackery in the medical profession as a lot of hospitals that are operational do not have the required legal backing to function.

He added that strike has became a weapon for health workers to hold government to ransom over wages.

The governor however called on members of the National Executive of the NMA to be vibrant and speak out on national issues as such contributions are capable of shaping development in the country.

He told them to constantly draw attention to flash points in the polity and proffer solutions that would shape the destiny of the nation.

Uduaghan charged them to brainstorm and critically access the health sector and provide a sustainable roadmap that would improve healthcare delivery in the nation.

He promised to continue to sustain the current tempo of healthcare delivery in the state, explaining that the free maternal healthcare and free medical care for children from 0-5 years of age was designed to build a highly potent human capital in the state.

Explaining further, he said: “We are interested in the development of the individual from conception to death. So what we are doing in the state is to provide free maternal for our pregnant women and free health care delivery for 0-5 year old children to enable us build a formidable human capital development programme that is geared towards a state beyond oil.”


He explained that the Delta State Teaching Hospital, Oghara was partnering with the University of Texas to ensure that in the next 14-16 months it would be able to carry out renal transplants.

Speaking further, he said a lot of achievements have been made in the medical field by the Delta State Teaching Hospital, Oghara and has helped Nigerians to seek medical attention in the state rather than travel outside the country.

Tags: Health, Featured, FG, MEDICAL TREATMENT ABROAD

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