NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele
By Alex Enumah
The search for better medical healthcare abroad by Nigerians particularly political office holders is said to be costing the nation over $500 million annually, even as a traveller on the average is said to be spending between $20-$40,000 on a trip.
Similarly, about 5,000 Nigerians are said to visit India and other countries in Europe and America every month in search of medical care even for medical conditions that can be satisfactorily managed in the country.
President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who disclosed this Monday at the commencement of the 2012 Physicians Week in Abuja, alluded the development to the deplorable situation of the health sector, which he said like any other sector, had suffered from years of systemic decay occasioned by lack of political commitment and mismanagement of the nation’s wealth.
Speaking on one of the sub-themes of this year’s celebration, “Medical Tourism and Investment Options in Nigeria’s Healthcare Sector – The Role of NMA and Other Stakeholders”, Enabulele argued that the poor confidence in Nigeria’s health system had led to poor investment in the sector with many Nigerians travelling outside the shores of the country in search of medical care.
He said for a country to be destination for medical tourism, it must substantially have a healthcare system that meets the satisfaction and expectation of her citizens and foreigners alike. He disclosed that India earned over $260 million from medical tourism from Nigeria alone, adding that it had been projected that in 2012 India would realise between $1 and $2 billion from a medical tourism market worth over $20 billion.
While calling for greater political commitment by governments at all levels, so that Nigeria can begin to tap into the lucrative business of Medical Tourism, Enabulele said: “Indeed, the NMA is convinced that if President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senator David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and other political office holders, make it a point of duty to stand on the same queue with ordinary Nigerians to seek medical care and conduct health checks in public hospitals in Nigeria, the confidence of ordinary Nigerians and foreigners in health care system will be re-ignited and bolstered.”