Akwaaba: Experts chart path to Lagos becoming W’Africa medical care destination
DAY-2 of the 18th Akwaaba African Travel Market 2022 focused on developing medical facilities of Lagos State to make it a destination for medical care in West Africa as part of effort to make Lagos a global travel destination.
Activities on the first day of the event centred around honouring top 100 travel and tourism women in Africa, when the Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, and other 99 women who made the list were given awards.
The event, which took place at the Eko Hotel & Suites during the week, spotlighted Lagos State as West Africa medical care destination when the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, spoke on ‘Medical Tourism and Lagos: How Lagos Is Positioning For Medical Tourism.’
Abayomi, who hinted that all medical facilities in the state would be designed with 50 per cent carbon footprints, listed a number of the facilities that would compete with international standards.
“The idea is to make Lagos State a West Africa medical care destination both with our facilities and practices. This is why we’re unveiling a number of world-class hospitals such as the General Hospital in Ojo, which is to be completed in 12-13 months. There is the New Wassey Street Children’s Hospital which is specially designed for pediatrics use.
“The Lagos Cardio-Renal Centre, Gbagada is to be returned to its original use for heart and kidney transplant now that COVID-19 is no longer a threat as it used to be. Also, there is Omotunde Ajoke Cole Surgical Hospital which is specifically a smart surgical therapy where telescoping surgery or keyhole surgery would be conducted as opposed to the usual. The facility will be commissioned in a couple of weeks. Also, there is the Psychiatric Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre, Ketu Ejirin. This will be the largest psychiatric unit in Africa and will admit rehabilitation candidates from across West Africa.”
On the issue of brain drain in Nigeria’s medical field, the commissioner noted that all the projects and world-class medical facilities are strategies for brain gain as opposed to brain drain.
“These facilities will activate brain gain as Nigerians in the diaspora would now want to come home to practice in these facilities. The doctors can gain knowledge abroad but would return home to practice with these facilities, as they would reverse brain drain and accelerate brain gain.”
Another expert, Isa Usman who spoke on the challenges of medical tourism in Africa identified illiteracy as one of the major challenges, based on the mentality of the people.
“Lack of proper understanding of medical tourism and the mindset of local medical personnel. Also, government policies are major challenges due to difficulty in getting international passports, challenges in converting Naira to Dollars and sending money for treatment,” he said.
On the factors driving medical tourism in Africa, Usman listed availability of treatment, affordability of treatment, accessibility of treatment, low success rate, lack of trust and attitude of medical personnel towards patients.
To him, the way forward is to develop sustainable intra-bound and inbound medical tourism for Africa, create an enabling environment for healthcare service providers and, take medical negligence, malpractice, medication error and healthcare fraud seriously.