The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said the federal government would invest N9 billion in upgrade of hospitals to halt foreign medical trips by Nigerians.
Mr. Udoma said this while interacting with civil society organizations under the auspices The Situation Room on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that the government was in a joint venture with some groups for the upgrade of some hospitals in the country to international standard.
He said that it was important that the government provided facilities that were good enough to treat any health condition in the country.
“What the ministry of health is doing is going into partnership with the private sector and tertiary institutions, with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.
“The idea is to upgrade a number of hospitals by getting first class facilities to have the best practice.
“We have some of the best doctors everywhere in the world; so, apart from the local ones, we want to entice some doctors in the Diaspora to also come back.
“One of the constraints they keep on telling us when we tell them to return is that the facilities are not good enough; so, we want to upgrade the facilities so that they can come back,” Mr. Udoma said.
He said that in universities anywhere in the world, best performers were always Nigerians, and that the nation had enough talent to serve in the hospitals when they were upgraded to world class.
The minister said that investing in upgrading the health facilities would help the government to reverse the outbound medical tourism being currently recorded in the country.
He said that release of funds from the 2017 budget would be project-based, adding that its implementation would focus on achieving the objectives of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
He said that the idea was to also help the country achieve its Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, and that N9 billion had also been earmarked for special projects.
Mr. Udoma stated that N25.9 billion was marked out for SDGs conditional grants and social nets while N12 billion was provided for special intervention project.
Earlier, Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and Convener of The Situation Room, said that it was necessary for the government to improve the living conditions in Nigeria.
Mr. Nwankwo said that given the harsh conditions Nigerians were currently contending with due to challenges in the economy, it had become more important that the budget delivered on government’s promises.
He urged the government to proffer fast solution to end the economic challenges.
He assured that civil society organisations would continue to partner the government to draw attention to projects and policies that would improve the living standard of Nigerians.