The nurses, under the auspices of the University Nursing Graduates Association (UGONSA), have expressed concern that Nigeria is losing an estimated $2 billion (1.1 trillion naira) a year to tourism medical.
This is contained in a statement released in Abakaliki on Thursday at the end of a two-day national conference of the association, held at the auditorium of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Hospital, Abakaliki (AEFUTHA).
The statement made available to journalists was signed by Solomon Egwuenu and Goodluck Nshi, respectively national president and national secretary of the association.
The association lamented the poor global ranking of the Nigerian health sector, which according to the association in the 1960s was ranked among the top 10 in the world.
The statement read in part: “How can we accept the Federal Ministry of Health’s estimate that Nigeria loses around $2 billion (1.1 trillion naira) a year to medical tourism?”
“It is heartbreaking, especially when it is evident that this money, if raised over the next five years and deployed for the modernization of our health facilities, our health research capacities and our care infrastructure healthcare, can launch our healthcare system to be among the top five in the world.
UGONSA regretted that the Nigerian health system, once revered around the world, is now celebrated as its ranking has improved from 187 out of 191 countries two decades ago to 163 out of 191 countries today.
“Our hospitals will be set to be in the world class rankings every day our political class starts seeking treatment in our hospitals.
“It is high time that medical tourism became a subject of acceptance or rejection by politicians at the ballot box.
“The poor performance of our healthcare system in the global rankings has never been the fault of our healthcare professionals.
“It is a systematic mistake not to have put in place the right facilities and the right motivation by the successive leaders of the country.
“To enable our healthcare professionals to replicate the kind of wonders they have achieved when traveling overseas in our own healthcare system.
“The money wasted on medical tourism is enough to revamp our healthcare system and make a competitive payment to healthcare professionals that will deter those currently practicing in the country from considering moving abroad.
“If our healthcare system isn’t good for you, our political system shouldn’t be good for you.”
Regarding the prevailing insecurity in the country, the association called on state and federal governments to intensify campaigns against insecurity.