Okon Bassey in Uyo
Federal Government has indicated interest to partner Akwa Ibom State in order to curb medical tourism in the country.
The Minister for Health, Prof Isaac Folorunso Adewole disclosed this while interacting with the management and staff of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital shortly after inspection of the Ibom Specialist Hospital on Friday.
According to the Minister, “Visiting the complex is an eye opener. There is no such complex in this country and I believe that with that complex we can actually begin the process of reversing medical tourism in Nigeria.”
He said the Executive Director of the Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority has been told to add the hospital to those facilities that the federal government would uplift this year. “My expectation is that if we work hard that facility should be put to use January next year and with that facility I will certainly not approve any Nigerian should use government resources to go abroad.”
Worried by the huge expenditure spent on foreign treatment, Adewole hinted that the federal government has developed guidelines for ensuring that people are not allowed to go abroad for treatments that could be manage in the country.
He maintained that foreign treatment was a significant ruin in the resources of the country saying it is alarming when you know or quantify how much civil and public servants collect for going to India and other places even for small cases.
The Minister said a medical condition that can take about N150, 000 for treatment in Nigeria, people will be applying for N10 million to go abroad for the same case. “It is a syndicate and I am also going to blame my colleagues. I learn that for any four cases they send abroad they collect money for the fifth one. We must stop it.”
“With our hard earn resources, I think we can also determine how it should be used,” adding that “if the person is spending his money certainly he can go to anywhere.”
He said with the Ibom Specialist Hospital, the federal government will partner to make sure it work which can be achieved in reversing medical tourism within two years with people even from Togo, Ghana and other places coming to Nigeria for treatment.
The Minister pointed out that the diagnostic system of the hospital is an excellent facility promising to upgrade the laboratory unit to meet the challenges being posed by Lassa fever in early diagnoses of cases in country.
Adewole hinted that currently, the average of Lassa fever infection this year is the worst in the history of the country with 60 percent case fatality rate instead of the previously 10 percent fatality rate in the past.
So far, he said, about 54 cases have been recorded in the latest outbreak of the disease in the country with 60 percent of live lost.