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Why medical tourism thrives, by minister

By Joseph Okoghenun
08 June 2016   |   3:00 am
The issue of medical tourism has been a thorny issue in the health sector. According to some analysts, Nigeria spends N1 billion annually on medical tourism.
Minister of State Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

Minister of State Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

As Nigeria battles to reduce the incidence of medical tourism, State Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has thrown more light on reasons Nigerian elites prefer travelling abroad for medical care rather than patronising Nigerian hospitals.

The Health Minister, who spoke in Lagos after the commissioning of three newly completed projects at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi (NOHI), Lagos, blamed the trend of foreign medical trips among some Nigerians on poor hospital ambience, rather than on equipment and personnel, as often argued.

The issue of medical tourism has been a thorny issue in the health sector. According to some analysts, Nigeria spends N1 billion annually on medical tourism.

Speaking to the medical community in Lagos, Ehanire said the trend must stop, adding that medical workers have a lot of roles to play in improving the state of Nigerian health care system.

Explaining the role of medical workers in promoting efficiency in the sector, Ehanire said health care professionals in the public health sector should learn to treat patients with the needed respect and decorum, even as he emphasised the need to make healthcare patient centred.

Ehanire also urged healthcare professionals to cooperate with government in bringing to halt the professional disharmony that exists in the health sector, by ensuring that there is mutual respect and orderliness.

Explaining that that the Federal Government has started putting mechanism in place to ensure that there is industrial harmony in the sector, Ehanire said government has started looking into the factors responsible for medical disharmony.

Highpoint of the occasion was the commissioning of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Clinic, Amenity Executive Clinic and new administrative building at the hospital. While Amenity Executive Clinic is expected to provide convenient treatment for individuals who do not wish to spend too much time waiting in line to access care, the new administrative building is expected to provide conducive office spaces for management staff of NOHI to facilitate smooth administrative functions and promote the hospital ambience.

The state health minister praised the efforts of NOHI Medical Director, Dr. Rotimi Odunubi, even as he said that the hospital is renowned in the field of orthopaedics in Nigeria.

Speaking earlier, Odunubi stated that although the hospital is about 70 years, it has the needed skills and equipment to attend medical issues in various orthopaedic sub-specialty.