U.S.- based Nigerian doctors plan to curb medical tourism
The huge amount of money Nigeria spends yearly on medical tourism will see reduction if the efforts of some United States (US)-based Nigerian doctors, who returned to the country to fight the challenge is sustained and supported.
According to Sovereign Investment Authority, some 30,000 Nigerians spent at least $1billion on medical tourism yearly as of 2014, but this figure could be drastically reduced if government addresses infrastructure deficit, creates friendly environment and formulates necessary policies, the doctors said, while training about a 100 Nigerian doctor yesterday in Lagos.
The doctors, who include Houston-based internal medicine, emergency medicine, critical care medicine and preventive medicine expert, Roger Olade, New Jersey-based general and minimally invasive surgeon, Ayotunde Adeyeri, Phoenix-based anesthesia and interventional pain management, Gbadebo Adebayo said they are determined to be part of the solution in reducing medical tourism in the country.
With a new treatment centre in Lagos, called Genesis Specialist Hospital, Adeyeri, who is also the Chief of Surgery at the hospital said that, “there is no need for anybody to fly abroad unnecessarily for medical tourism.”
To him, it is good to have surgery when you are close to your relatives but Nigerians have to pass through series of challenges by going abroad because of the poor health sector here.
“For that to change, some of us have to stop complaining. That is why we took our step,” the Surgeon said.
Adeyeri stated that the standard of care obtainable in the developed world is achievable in Nigeria with necessary investment from government and private players.
Indeed, the clamour for reduction in medical tourism and possible return of Nigerian medical experts, who are practicing abroad could only become feasible if government intensifies effort on infrastructure and favourable environment, he noted.
“Nigeria is one of the biggest black nations where we do not have major centres of excellence in health care that can stand next to some centres in West Africa.
Government needs to write new policies to bring about health infrastructure and improve expertise,” Adeyeri added.
Speaking on laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon stressed on the need to bridge the gap in open surgery in Nigeria, adding that improved expertise and infrastructure would help to achieve this.
Also, speaking at the event, Olade, who is a product of both Cornell and Harvard medical schools and also the Managing Director of the hospital, said: “We have a training center within our premises and we do give seminars that are well attended by our colleagues in the medical community. Apart from the training, we discovered that if medical tourism will reduce we need to provide an environment that combines good medical expertise with updated medical equipment. That is the basic reason why we came up with Genesis Specialist Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos.
Considering current economic reality in the country, particularly with foreign exchange, Olade said the reality would naturally reduce medical tourism and encourage those that travel abroad regularly for healthcare to look inwards.
According to him, the centre is affiliated with major health networks across the world, including Harvard Medical School, Cancer Treatment Center Of America and MD Anderson and designed to provide advance care and help the country retain the resources spent yearly on medical tourism.