Medical tourism and struggling healthcare system in Nigeria

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By Yusuf Abdulkadir

Over the years, there has been a gradual decline in the Nigerian health sector. It is so disheartening that the health facilities that should be properly managed and supported by the Nigerian government have been neglected and that the current and previous governments are the serial causes of this neglect.

Nigerians are now left alone to suffer and get good health care on their own due to the failure of the government to provide good health care to its citizens. To compound the problem further, President Muhammdu Buhari, who should set an example for other Nigerian leaders, is guilty of this. He left for the UK for his routine medical examination a few weeks ago. Is our healthcare system not good enough to meet its medical needs?

Not to be outdone are claims by the administration headed by President Buhari that he has implemented and facilitated many infrastructure projects in the health sector. The question here is are these so-called projects properly maintained, equipped and funded? Or why will the president continue to spend and grant money on projects without believing it?

To tell the truth, our health system is gradually deteriorating. The health sector is not exciting. Why should government officials run abroad for treatment, after claiming to have spent billions of naira on infrastructure projects in the country, including the health sector?

Why do our governors, senators, honorables, ministers and others travel abroad for treatment? The best answer to these questions is that they don’t believe in their actions. They believe that they will always receive the best treatment abroad, regardless of what they do in their own country, which should never be the thought of a good government voted to protect life and the property of his people. They are fleeing overseas simply because they have failed miserably to maintain our health care system.

Assuming the Nigerian healthcare system is up to the task, properly equipped with modern facilities, staff and doctors are well treated with instant payment of salaries, bonuses, incentives and other necessary things up, things wouldn’t be so bad. Honestly, I doubt that the Nigerian government knows or feels what Nigerians are going through when it comes to health issues associated with health facilities, hospitals, etc. inadequate.

It is no longer a surprise that in Nigeria today, some people are so frustrated that they go to social media to seek support by circulating leaflets to get money for treatment, in especially those who have to travel abroad for special surgery and other health issues. These days, some doctors are leaving the country for Saudi Arabia, USA, Canada and UK to get high paying jobs. The working conditions in these countries cannot be compared to those in Nigeria where you struggle to get a good job and sometimes go on strike for rights.

Without a doubt, it is time for our leaders to take responsibility and push for sufficient funds to be allocated to the health sector. The free health system promised in the elections must be properly implemented. It is time for them to effectively facilitate projects in the healthcare sector. They should equip our hospitals, starting with community health care centers in various neighborhoods and local governments to national and university hospitals. This applies to other sectors, be it the education sector, the economic sector and others.

Finally, by putting all this in place gradually, the country would develop, which, to a large extent, would pave the way for growth and development.

Abdulkadir is with the Nigerian Tribune.

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