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Medical tourism: Is Nigeria really a 'giant' in Africa?

13 April 2015, 12:39 Hussain Obaro

A friend of mine was told me of his experience about two years ago when worked as a medical officer MO, at the Federal Medical Centre FMC, Katsina. A Local Government Chairman rushed his second wife who had been about 16 weeks pregnant to the hospital, for bleeding per vagina. Doctors later found that the young lady had had a miscarriage. One of the doctors asked the honorable why he didn’t enlist his wife for antenatal early enough because there were no record that she was ever enlisted in FMC Katsina. But the man boastfully, said “Do you really expect me to enlist my wife in this kind of hospital for antenatal? There are better hospitals in Egypt and that is where I prefer” Amused and amazed of his cluelessness, my friend asked him whether he knew the reasons for his wife’s miscarriage? But the man simply said “you tell me, you are the doctor here”.

Even though the Chairman’s first the wife had the antenatal of her children in Nigeria, The man who thinks his elevated status as a magistrate should be reflected in the choice of hospital his wife enlisted for antenatal opted for Egypt as a way of “showing off” his class among his peers and friends. The funny thing is that after two trips to Egypt where his wife had enlisted for antenatal, the he had to rush the young lady to a Nigeria hospital instead of flying her to Egypt! The miscarriage would have been totally unnecessary and avoidable had the lady been allowed to get antenatal care in Nigeria, like her mate.

Government at various level have done and doing so much to rehabilitate, upgrade and provide the right modern facilities to enhance health care delivery system in Nigeria, but the issue of Medical Tourism which is already causing so much embarrassment to Nigeria and indeed the rest of Africa has being on the increase. Even when there is adequate facilities and well trained man power, some wealthy Nigerians  still prefers to travel abroad for medical care for reasons ranging from; showing off elevated status and sudden found wealth, lack of trust and confidence and Nigerian health care delivery system or simply because they occupy a public office in which they are entitled to free or government sponsored medical care, so they opts for foreign medical care as a way of wasting and milking the resources of the country, like it’s no man’s business, after all its not their hard earned money.

Also Read: Yobe government to foot victims' medical bills

In Nigeria today, public office holders travel abroad for medical challenges as ordinary as malaria. Some even fly out of the country using tax payer’s money to get only medical checks outside the country. if the president of this country, state governors, federal and states legislators members of the judicial top officers and even some ward councilors always fly abroad for medical care despite the fact that the doctors they are going out to patronize aren’t really better than the ones we have in Nigeria and apart from the lack of sophistication for very serious and emergency cases, Nigerian hospitals can compete favorably with the rest of the world. The moneys being wasted on foreign medical trips yearly runs into millions of dollars that could be properly channeled into providing and establishing world class hospitals in different parts of the country which would benefit both the rich and the poor.

During the life time of Nelson Mandela, even when he was critically ill, I didn’t hear of any time he was flown out of South Africa for medical care. For a leader so great and internationally respected to as a matter of policy, insist to seek medical care within the boundaries of South Africa is an example that Nigerian leaders and public office holders should emulate. As a self acclaimed “Giant of Africa” the rest of Africa and the world should see our health sector as second to none in the continent. But ridiculously, many of our public office holders even travel to smaller African countries to seek medical care.

There’s need for the leaders of the federal republic of Nigeria and indeed all public office holders to stop embarrassing this country. We need to stop this inferiority complex and the mentality that anything foreign is better. We have well trained medical personnel in this country, all that is needed is for the Government to further upgrade medical facilities in the Nigerian hospitals to bring them at par with what obtains in other countries they always run to for medical care. It is said that one of the features of the third world or under developed nations is their inferiority complex of always failing to consume, utilize or patronize what they produce or have, but rather they crave more of what they do not produce.

One of the ways Nigeria can earn respect as the “Giant of Africa” is for us to rise above the mentality of seeing anything foreign as better than ours.  By way of a law, through the National Assembly, public office holders, from the president to the ward councilors should be mandated to lead by example, by patronizing Nigerian hospitals. As it is only through this that Nigerians, our African brethren and indeed the rest of the world would have confidence in the Nigerian health care delivery system. Enough of this continuous drain of the country’s resources and economy in the guise of seeking medical care abroad. This wastage must be put to an end if we are really the “Giant of African”    

- MyNews24

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