Medical Tourism Is Major Contributor To FOREX Depletion – Nigeria’s Health Minister

By Chioma Obinna

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said that medical tourism is one of the major contributors to foreign exchange depletion in the country.

Ehanire who spoke in Lagos at the inauguration of the Reddington Hospital Group’s cardiology Centre in Lagos also identified limited access, inequitable distribution of facilities, limitation of both material, financial and human resources for health, poor attitude to work, strikes and inter-professional discord, and limited affordability for the average citizen as challenges plaguing the health sector.

Ehanire said by conservative estimates medical tourism cost Nigeria about $1 billion annually

He said the phenomenon which many Nigerians have resorted to has left the poor in Nigeria to their fate or faith in God, and so-called native medicine.

“The Federal Ministry of Health is furthering the revitalisation of nearly 10,000 primary health care centres (PHCs) in Nigeria, at least 1 in every political ward, working with states and our development partners, to rebuild the National Health System from the foundation, including plans for a referral system to relay patients through secondary to tertiary facilities.”

He said to check the problems; government is encouraging private sector participation in health care delivery.

Ehanire said commissioning of Grays Cardiology Centre has sets the bar higher as it goes beyond the routine, to bring state of the art diagnostic and intervention capacity to Nigeria.

“We are proud that services that would have been found only in the top hospitals of technologically advanced countries, can be rendered right here, in the country, without need for passport, visa, airfare or other hurdles and expenses.”

In his welcome address, the Medical Director of the Centre, Dr. Soe Moe Aung, gave his assurance that the latest medical technology in cardiology will be used to provide the expertise to ensure that all patients receive world-class medical care. Aung explained that the Grays Cardiology Centre, is a full-fledged Cardiology Centre with a vision of improving patients’ chances of healthy survival, bettering the quality of their care, and giving more people the tools and education they need to prevent cardiovascular disease in an ethical and affordable manner.

Recalling that the first digital Cardiac Catheterisation and Angiography Suite in Nigeria was launched by Reddington Hospital in 2009, he said Grays Cardiology Centre was launched in collaboration with a team of indigenous cardiology experts, Professors of cardiology, and a USA-based cardiology group.

The Grays Cardiology Centre will offer services covering non-invasive and interventional procedures, heart diagnostic procedures, cardiac rehabilitation, intensive coronary care, telementry services, and heart care education, amongst others.