Abuja - The Senate Committee on Health has expressed concerns over the huge amount of money being spent by Nigerians on trips abroad for medical treatment.
Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa (PDP-Delta)-led Committee while exchanging views with the Minister of State for Health, Dr Mohammed Pate and stakeholders in the sector at the budget defence session.
According to him, close to N80 billion is being spent yearly on medical tourism in the country and this has to be checked.
"We know that several Nigerians travel outside the shores of this country to the United Kingdom and India for medical treatment.
"You and I will agree that this is not the direction we need to go.
"I believe that we spend close to N80 billion yearly on medical tourism in this country and this is not the way we have to go," he stressed.
The committee chairman said that with 2013 budget estimate of about N297 billion, only 20 per cent was earmarked for capital development.
The committee also expressed worry over the data collection technique of the ministry and its authenticity as well as the low level generation capacity of the ministry.
In his presentation, Pate told the committee that the ministry was facing several challenges but gave the assurance that all hands were on deck to surmount these challenges.
Pate said N480 million of the 2012 budget estimate had been allocated for preparedness and response to epidemic out break such as Cholera, Meningitis and Lassa fever.
He added that N2.2 billion had been proposed for procurement of HIV kits and drugs just as N261 million had been appropriated for cancer control.
According to him, what the budget is trying to convey is President Goodluck Jonathan’s focus on achieving tangible results.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the budget defence session would continue on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the senate will on Wednesday discuss a motion on why a female judge was denied a Court of Appeal seat based on her state of origin.
Coming under the senate standing rules, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, informed the senate that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, was not sworn in as a Justice of Appeal Court because of her state of origin.
The Senate President David Mark, ruled that the matter be taken on Wednesday, noting that it was wrong to discriminate against any female based on state of origin.
The senate had been on a two week Sallah recess and resumed plenary sitting on Nov. 6.