The healthcare sector has deteriorated and Nigerians are seeking healthcare abroad.
Nigerians have spent up to N175 billion in 2017 on medical tourism and unless the healthcare sector is given attention, it may get worse.
Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu stated that Nigeria was losing at least N175 billion annually to medical tourism at the 2017 edition of Faculty Week & Scientific Conference with the theme “Medical Tourism in Nigeria” at Obafemi Awolowo University.
The conference which took place on 5 December 2017, centred around how medical tourism has become more frequently practised in Nigeria and how this growing trend can be handled. Many officials spoke out on it and outlined the governments inadequacies in solving this problem.
How is medical tourism affecting the medical sector?
The former Minister of Health called the money Nigerians were spending on traveling to other countries for medical treatment was more than half of the total budget for the 2018 federal health sector.
Chukwu also said that the health sector’s development is being hindered by the lack of funding it needs to improve with even the health personnel not able to gain proficiency in skills because of lack of medical cases handled.
He linked medical personnel's low esteem and loss of morale to the increase of patients preferring to medical care and service in other countries rather than in Nigeria as it shows lack of confidence in their abilities.
What improvement can be done to change this?
Chukwu suggested that the government should standardize the health sector by supporting it with standard medical equipment that is equal to those found abroad to encourage people to seek medical care in Nigeria.
Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi who is the Group Chairman of Mutual Benefits Assurance said that the government needs to fund the medical sector as a means of combatting the growing problem of medical tourism.
Prof Bernice who is the Dean of Faculty of Clinical Sciences said that the theme was chosen because of the realization that medical tourism was a threat to the delivery of healthcare services.
Adegbehingbe also advocated for public-private partnerships in funding of highly sophisticated diagnosis tools, adding that development of innovative procedures and treatment must also be encouraged.
She urged the government to allow medical practitioners to educate Nigerians on services they offer as obtained in foreign medical centers.