The Nigeria High Commission in India has expressed concern over the upsurge of Nigerians trooping to India for medical care services at the detriment of Nigeria’s health care system.
Nigeria’s High Commissioner in India, Oyebola Kuku, made the statement when he received the Abike Dabiri-Erewa-led House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, who visited him in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Mr. Kuku said in the past two years, the Nigerian Mission had witnessed an upsurge in the number of Nigerians coming to India in search of medical care with the hope that it was very cheap.
He said out of 25,000 Nigerians, who got visa to visit India in 2011, 20,000 came for medical care, with each spending nothing less than 40,000 dollars on their trips.
The high commissioner said that Nigerians on such trips spent a lot on transportation, hotel accommodation, feeding and hospital bills, while some patients ended up dying in the process.
“The mission’s recent experience shows that some leading hospitals have realised that Nigerians coming to India have increased and have, therefore, become exploitative in their approach to Medicare delivery,” Mr. Kuku said.
He said that the introduction of middlemen as health facilitators in both India and Nigeria had compounded the problems of Nigerians.
“The mission is aware that for every bill paid by Nigerian patients, 20 per cent commission has already been worked out to be paid to middlemen by the accepting hospitals. This should be raised at the highest level as an issue of concern. In almost all the cases, deposits are paid in dollars and not rupee, which is the national currency.’’
The high commissioner said some of the cases brought from Nigeria to India were unnecessary as they ought to have been handled in Nigeria while some came so late with their cases beyond remedy
Mr. Kuku advised the Nigerian government to establish a standard hospital that could take care of the medical needs of Nigerians at home and so reduce capital flight from Nigeria.
He also advised Nigerians coming to India for medical treatment to create contact with the mission and announce their presence before embarking on medical procedures.
Responding, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said it was a pathetic situation in spite of the fact that Nigeria had some of the best medical personnel in the world as well as the means to establish good hospitals in Nigeria.
“It is indeed pathetic that Nigerians coming here for cheap medical care ended up in jail, mortuary or being swindled by the so-called health facilitators. It is a shame and we must do something urgent about it,” she said.
The legislator said the time had come for Nigeria to encourage its medical Diaspora to come home and establish hospitals like their Indian counterpart.
Contributing, Bimbo Daramola, a member of the committee, expressed regret that the upsurge was caused by the deficiency in Nigeria’s education and health care systems.
He advised the mission to assist Nigerians get a list of credible hospitals in India and create awareness among Nigerians to frustrate the efforts of middlemen and exploitative hospitals in India.