Political will and the right policies will end medical tourism – NARD


… Entrusting the management of the hospital to the administrators will reverse the trend – Akintayo, ex-president of the PSN

The National Association of Resident Physicians (NARD) said the worrying phenomenon of medical tourism would only become a thing of the past when the federal government showed the political will to revamp the country’s healthcare system, put in place the right ones. policies and allow technocrats to run sensitive political offices.

A former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo, however, has disagreed with what drives medical tourism in the country, as well as what can be done to stop the trend. Akintayo insists that the country’s tertiary health facilities, which are centers of excellence, have been mismanaged by the current leadership, resulting in the near collapse of quality health care services and dilapidated infrastructure, which are critical issues. factors that stimulate medical tourism.

He said: “The starting point is to have the right people in charge of hospitals, a situation that hospitals across the country are currently lacking.” While emphasizing his position, the chairman of the NARD Communications Committee, Dr Julian Ojebo, who addressed the Saturday Telegraph, also stressed the need for the FG to equip at least one hospital in each geopolitical area to treat specialized cases, including kidney transplantation and heart surgery.

Ojebo, a registrar specializing in anesthesia and critical care medicine, explained that in addition to creating an environment for medical experts to thrive, there was a need for the government to further explore the public-private partnership agreement (PPP ) to equip some hospitals for specialized cases, saying, “The government can contribute about 60 percent and the private sector 40 percent. Medical tourism refers to people traveling abroad to obtain medical treatment. In the past, these have typically been those who traveled from less developed countries to large medical centers in highly developed countries for treatment not available at home.

Health Minister Dr Osagie Ehanire recently lamented that Nigeria was losing about $ 2 billion in foreign exchange per year to medical tourism. However, speaking of the trend, a worrying situation, Ojebo said, “We can overcome medical tourism, but it is about policies. Nigeria has six geopolitical zones; a hospital from each geopolitical zone can be equipped for each specialty. “For example, primary health care can be obtained from anywhere, but the level of specialty we need varies like heart surgeries; Abuja can be a center for all heart conditions.

“It’s just about policies, political will and pushing private investors and government to realize these synergies. Political planning and political will are closely linked, I can assure you that over the next two years there will be a total overhaul of the health system in the country. Ojebo, who was the former first vice president of NARD, however, blamed the inability of some departments in the federal health ministry to identify the country’s health needs to ensure adequate policy planning that can curb the high rate. of medical tourism in the country.

“The only place we’re wrong is that the Department of Planning and Policy and Department of Hospital Services at FMoH are not doing their jobs. The bureaucratic bottleneck in these offices actually gets in the way of a lot; therefore, they really need to sit down with FMoH stakeholders to really know what the swarming population of Nigerians really wants. For his part, the former chairman of NARD, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr Michael Olarewaju, who insisted that doctors alone cannot lead the fight to end medical tourism in the country, said the federal government must liberalize the health care sector. by engaging private investors, in addition to increasing funding and social assistance for professionals in the sector. He said: “Medical tourism is a rather unfortunate subject to discuss.

The government is pretending to end medical tourism. If they are sincere, they could put an end to medical tourism. “Health care is capital intensive; thus, the government must increase funding and perhaps involve private investors in order to fight against the shortage of modern equipment in our health establishments.

“Health workers must be better paid according to modern realities. The problem is not the lack of skills, training or knowledge base, but the lack of modern equipment, with the associated brain drain. “A government that wants to end medical tourism would do its best to prevent doctors from migrating to other countries.” “A country where the risk allowance for doctors and other health workers is set at 60,000 N per year (5,000 N / month), compared to a hardship allowance of over 1 million N per month for politicians, is not ready and does not deserve to keep his doctors, ”he added. Akintayo added, “What can be done to stop medical tourism should be a complete and total package; it must be good management of human and material resources and the starting point is to have the right people in charge of hospital administration.

Akintayo felt that Nigeria must have a Minister of Health who is a goalscorer. He said, “Although the nation’s centers of excellence are supposed to be the tertiary health facilities, but do a random check on the people who run our tertiary hospitals, they are the ones who have no pedigree; they do not understand anything about administration; and they don’t understand routine management. According to Akintayo, the beginning of problems with the health system in Nigeria was Draconian Decree 10 of 1985, which removed the management of hospitals from the hands of hospital administrators and put them in the hands of “medically qualified” doctors. “That’s why we always talk about those times when hospitals across the country were run by hospital administrators.

These are the periods when University College Hospital (UCH) was ranked among the top five in the entire Commonwealth. Even members of the Saudi royal family have already had access to health care in Nigeria. Next, hospital administrators were the officers and managers of tertiary hospitals.

To this end, Akintayo revealed that, “If you can’t manage the resources, then of course you can’t manage the hospitals, then of course the health system will fail; and that’s what happened to us. Speaking further, he pointed out that two years ago, the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC) conducted a survey of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) in Nigeria. and in the damning report, the health sector was the most corrupt and smelly.


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