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Buhari laments Nigeria’s loss of over N400b yearly to medical tourism



President Muhammadu Buhari says the inability of government to address various health challenges has resulted in increasing medical tourism, that costs Nigeria over N400 billion yearly.

The president stated this yesterday during the inauguration of Senior Executive Course 41, 2019 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State, with the theme ‘Funding Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria’.

He said: “Government has shown strong commitment in the revitalisation of the health sector. These efforts notwithstanding, our health sector is still characterised by low response to public health emergencies, inability to combat outbreak of deadly diseases and mass migration of medical personnel out of the country. This has resulted in increasing medical tourism by Nigerians in which Nigeria loses N400 billion on annual basis.”

Represented by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, the president said his government had, last January, flagged off Primary Healthcare Revitalisation Programme with the aim of having 10,000 functional primary healthcare facilities across the country, with at least one in every political ward.

According to him, the programme was expected to focus more on the rural areas with particular attention to vulnerable populations such as women, under-five children and elders.

In collaboration with international development partners, the programme was to ensure that quality basic healthcare is delivered to Nigerians, irrespective of their locations.

He added that the administration also launched the second National Strategic Health Development Plan 2018-2022, for universal health coverage.

This has seen disbursement of funds to high performing states under the Save One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOML-P for R), The Guardian gathered.

In his opening remarks, acting director-general of NIPSS, Jonathan Juma, said during the 10-month course, the participants would be exposed to the highest levels of intellectual discourse to sharpen their understanding of national issues and widen their perspective.

Juma added that the participants would be trained as strategic leaders and equipped with skills for policy engagement at the highest echelons of governance and decision-making.

He described the theme of the course, ‘Funding Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria’ as both pertinent and timely, as “it focuses on funding strategic solutions to the all-important issue of sustainable funding of Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system.”

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