Almost two years after his last private trip to the United Kingdom (UK), President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, jetted out of the country on a medical trip to London for the sixth time since he was sworn into office in 2015.
The president and some aides departed the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, for the London ‘routine’ medical check-up around 2:30 p.m. Those at the airport to bid the president farewell included the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello; Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu and other presidential aides.
Before departing the Presidential Villa, Buhari had met behind closed doors with security chiefs, where he directed them “to fish out and crush heads of bandits, kidnappers and their local collaborators to restore confidence in the society.”
The president’s ride has expectedly elicited reactions from Nigerians over the deplorable state of healthcare gadget with professionals announcing the united states of america will be losing extra than N576 billion ($1.2 billion) every year to clinical tourism.
Nigerians have for many years suffered from an inadequately funded healthcare machine, squalid clinics and hospitals, and poorly paid and overworked healthcare employees who regularly move overseas for employment. There are at least eight,178 scientific docs of Nigerian starting place operating within the U.K., in line with data on the U.K. General Medical Council internet site. The exodus has worsened healthcare in a country that has one health practitioner for every five,000 humans, consistent with the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).
It would be recalled that President Buhari had in 2015 promised to forestall scientific tourism and shop the state scarce foreign exchange if elected president. In truth, he promised to prohibit elected authorities officials from overseas scientific trips after he rued the tens of millions of dollars expended on scientific tourism.
Before the sunrise of COVID-19 final 12 months, reports suggested that almost five,000 people leave the u . S . A . Monthly for various styles of treatment overseas. However, The Guardian investigation discovered that the rate of medical tourism decreased significantly given that January 2020 due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the tour restrictions that followed.
Defending the ride, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, stated President Buhari commenced his yearly clinical ride to London even before he got here into office as Nigeria’s president in 2015. Shehu stated this the previous day whilst addressing newsmen on the departure wing of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, simply after his fundamental departed the country for clinical check-up.
He said: “The President is asking on the window of opportunity that has opened with the Easter excursion. It’s a miles relaxed duration for absolutely everyone – Good Friday, Easter Monday, National Holidays. Then, he will use that period for his normal medical take a look at-up.
“This is some thing he has executed for such a lot of years even before he got here to office. Every yr, he had appointment along with his medical doctors and he went there to do it. The handiest anomaly this time round is that COVID prevented this form of factor to keep in 2020. So, he has misplaced a few duration. The final time he became there has been one and 1/2 years back.”
The president is due returned in the usa within the 2d week of April. Buhari is embarking on the medical trip at a time contributors of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have declared their aim to commence strike action on April 1.
According to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), about N576 billion ($1.2 billion) is misplaced to clinical tourism yearly in Nigeria, an quantity that could had been invested inside the improvement of the country’s health care system and the country as a whole. This is ready N100 billion much less than the N632.7 billion allocated to the health area inside the 2021 price range.
Also, a Price Waterhouse Coopers (2016) record states that Nigerians spend $1 billion yearly on medical tourism with 60 per cent of it on 4 key specialties particularly: oncology, orthopedics, nephrology and cardiology. This is almost 20 in step with cent of the whole authorities spending on public health sector for the year along with salaries of all public area docs, nurses and different healthcare workers as well as different fitness programmes like malaria, tuberculosis, polio and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) prevention.
NARD’s function is corroborated by means of a observe posted in International Journal of Development and Management Review (INJODEMAR) titled “Medical Tourism in Nigeria: Challenges and Remedies to Healthcare System Development.” The paper through researchers from Departments of Sociology, University of Ilorin, Medical Microbiology, Bowen University, and Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, identified brain drain syndrome, underfunding, dilapidated structures and obsolete system, industrial strikes, subculture of Nigerians who prefer something overseas and negative attitude of fitness professionals as problems dealing with the Nigerian health area.
Some of the remedies to the hassle as advised within the paper encompass: ok investment of the device, advanced fitness care facilities, better remuneration and motivation for health workers, government intervention at the battle for supremacy amongst medical examiners, immediate ban of government subsidized medical journey abroad, ok training, enforcement of legal action towards clinical negligence, improved medical research and inspiring foreign investment.
MEANWHILE, regardless of big debate of Mr. President’s visit to UK, clinical docs are divided on whether it’s miles appropriate or otherwise after the united states spent massive sums of money currently to refurbish the Aso Rock hospital. In its 2021 finances, the president allocated its maximum quantity ever to the State House including the ‘presidential wing’ of a medical institution the president seldom uses, where N17.3 billion may be spent to run the State House, Nigeria’s seat of energy.
While the apex frame of scientific docs in Nigeria, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), says Mr. President has the right to choose where to get handled, the unconventional body of medical medical doctors, NARD, says Buhari’s ride is a waste of scare foreign exchange and it’s miles encouraging brain drain. They are, but, unanimous that Nigeria can reduce the unemployment indices significantly by way of investing heavily on fitness.
President, NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, told The Guardian the day before today: “I don’t have any hassle with Mr. President going overseas for scientific remedy. What I will now not help is he going there for malaria remedy. Besides that, the President has the right to pick out where to get handled.”
Ujah, however, entreated the Federal Government to satisfy the demands of resident doctors to keep away from some other commercial action that would shut down the health sector. “These docs are struggling. Despite all the risk they’re taking treating patients, they may be being owed. That is not truthful. A labourer deserves his or her wages. They have exhausted other avenues to get their needs and strike has end up the most effective option,” the NMA President said.
President of NARD, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, instructed The Guardian: “Truly what is the nation of the Villa health center? What is the kingdom of all the monies been budgeted every year for the medical institution? This tells you nobody is responsible. If things have been regular, no commander in leader will tour for a ‘ordinary’ clinical take a look at-up. If we’re in a saner country, the clinical strong point the Commander In Chief (CIC) desires could be deployed there. But no person has been deployed. I can almost as a count of truth inform you that the lead health practitioner who the CIC sees is maximum likely a Nigerian who relocated for greener pastures to shop his sanity.”
On threat to begin strike the next day (Thursday), Okhuaihesuyi said: “The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors after an extraordinary National Executive council has decided to embark on an business motion due to persistent forget about of the fitness institution in addition to the welfare of the men and women running spherical the clock to make certain fitness is given to our humans.
“The government has over the last two decades reneged on all its terms of agreement with doctors whilst the doctors have once more been made to hold on regardless of negative working conditions with hearts weighted down with pain. If the Aso Villa sanatorium turned into running at pinnacle best sponsored with correct remuneration they would have top elegance physicians there handing over pinnacle excellent provider but once more it’s no longer the case. The medical institution is simply within the name, nothing to expose for it.”
On why Nigerian doctors nonetheless depart for greener pastures abroad, the NARD President said the important tripod of emigration of doctors are: poor running condition; insecurity; and welfare. Okhuaihesuyi stated those pinnacle 3, across the world, make for docs emigrating.
“As we talk Nigeria has no 3 megastar government-owned tertiary fitness organization. How many radio oncology centres do we have, yet we’ve got knowledge but our patients die bodily and mentally after lengthy waits for radiation therapy. Can you stroll into any medical institution in Nigeria these days and get sorted out without problems? We are nonetheless shifting at a snail pace whilst other nations of the arena are miles ahead,” he said.
Globally, scientific tourism has contributed immensely to the growth and improvement of healthcare system and countries engage in it as it draws human beings from diverse components of the sector, thereby adding cost to the international locations worried. In the United States as an example, over 60,000 scientific vacationers had been attracted to the united states of america in 2008, even as inside the year 2012, Jordan attracted 250,000 international sufferers accompanied by means of extra than 500,000 family producing properly above $1 billion earnings from scientific tourism that identical yr. There isn’t any document of scientific vacationers coming to Nigeria.
MEANWHILE, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to admit that his management has did not make effect in the healthcare machine. The birthday celebration, in a statement through its countrywide publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the ordinary distant places clinical check-up via the President is a right away indictment of his presidency over its failure to restoration the healthcare gadget.
The birthday celebration stated it’s miles worrisome that underneath President Buhari, even the hitherto quite rated State House Clinic, has turn out to be so moribund that it is able to now not provide a simple clinical take a look at-up provider for Mr. President.
“While the PDP has not anything in opposition to wherein any person, including President Buhari, seeks his or her medical services, our celebration is worried that the Buhari presidency is taking no decisive steps to restore our fitness care machine, ostensibly due to the fact Mr. President can find the money for foreign places scientific treatment at tax payers’ fee,” the assertion added.
ALSO, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as shameful and regrettable the decision of President Buhari to preserve to tour to London at critical expenses to the taxpayers to take care of his personal fitness needs. The rights group said the unwise desire of the President to patronise overseas health carrier vendors in general rejection and disregard for the Nigerian indigenous health carrier professionals has proven that his management is hypocritical about reaching any type of mileage within the region of rebuilding the close to moribund fitness care area of the state’s financial system.
“The non-stop patronage of foreign scientific services via President Muhammadu Buhari and participants of his immediately own family is a express message that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, may be unwilling to bequeath enduring and sustainable legacies inside the regions of constructing enduring and strategic fitness infrastructures, which must put to an cease to the wasteful ventures of tourism by government officials who fritter scarce overseas reserves to carrier their non-public health demanding situations at public expenses overseas.”