The federal government on Monday advised Nigerians to find out about the treatment of certain illnesses locally before considering traveling abroad.
According to the government, such advice became necessary as many of its hospitals across the country were now dealing with some of the medical issues pushing some citizens off the country’s shores.
Meanwhile, the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi in Abuja has started open heart surgery with four patients already being treated at the facility.
The government has insisted that lack of awareness has forced some Nigerians to seek treatment for certain illnesses abroad rather than locally.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora gave the advice while inspecting some newly acquired facilities to improve patient care by Jabi Federal Medical Center in Abuja.
He said the government had put in place measures to tackle medical tourism.
Mamora said state-of-the-art equipment is being purchased by the President’s regime, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retired), to make the processing of surgeries less cumbersome.
The minister said that many public hospitals in the country are now dealing with certain medical issues pushing Nigerians abroad.
He said: “There are other areas of medical tourism and we will address them gradually. We apply advanced equipment which would make the procedure less cumbersome.
“I can assure you that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is doing a lot in terms of modernizing the facilities to adapt them to the demands of the moment.
“Affordability and sustainability are components of universal health coverage.
“The entire medical team that performed this operation are Nigerians living in Nigeria. can perform this procedure really well.
Earlier, the Chief Medical Director of FMC, Abuja, Prof. Saad Ahmed explained that the open surgery was the “first of its kind at this institution”.
He said: “We were able to do this successfully and all the patients are doing very well. Open heart surgery is quite delicate and requires a lot of skill and commitment.
“In this regard, the federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been able to obtain infrastructure and equipment in this regard.
“We usually send some people to train in various amenities because open-heart surgery is a team effort.
“A lot of people right now are going through some form of training. The main thing for that is for us to domesticate that and make it a routine procedure at the Federal Medical Center in Abuja.
“It is in the interest of all Nigerians, but we are looking at how it could benefit our neighboring countries and other parts of the world.
“We are starting something small, but looking for how we can make it big in the near future.”
Ahmed explained that the surgeries performed were possible thanks to the support of Save A Heart Foundation UK, which he said provided “skills transfer and also donated some equipment”.
He said: “Thanks to this, we were able to subsidize the cost for the patients. But long term, we want to call on philanthropists, certain businesses and corporations to come forward, to subsidize the cost of this surgery through donations to our Medical Indigent Fund.
“The Chairman of the Board has made contacts here and there, to see how he can bring these philanthropists to the rescue of some of these people.
“Meanwhile, locally, we have established the Destitute Medical Fund which is managed by some community members of this hospital, all with the aim of generating funds to help the destitute.
“With the onset of open-heart surgery here, it means Medical Indigent Fund managers must be ready to reach people far and near to see how they can help those in need. ”