Nigerians seek medical attention overseas because the country’s health sector is unreliable, Yahaya Abubakar, the traditional ruler of Nupe kingdom has said.
The Etsu Nupe said this on Wednesday while receiving senior executives of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS) study tour team at his royal palace in Bida, Niger State.
Shortage of human resources, poor infrastructure and inadequate funding are some of the challenges the monarch said are bedevilling the country’s health sector.
“Nigerians travel abroad for advanced medical services. Why are our own not reliable? Why is it inadequate? If we can answer these questions we can make progress.”
Thousands of Nigerians travel abroad each year to seek medical treatment as the nation’s health care system remains poorly funded and equipped.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also been flayed several times for seeking medical attention abroad.
He spent almost four months in the UK two years ago, in one of such trips.
Last year, a former health minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said Nigeria loses N175 billion annually to medical tourism.
But last month, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the government is working tirelessly to reduce medical tourism and ensure Nigerians get the best health services in the country.
Mr Abubakar, who is also chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, acknowledged the roles traditional institutions play in providing support and an enabling environment for the Primary Health Care (PHC) system to thrive.
“The success of immunisation and child spacing in Nigeria today is a result of involving traditional institutions. For the communities to accept the vaccines, the traditional authorities had to key into the programme and help create awareness and make people accept them.”
The emir also said his emirate is involved in establishing and strengthening PHCs to cater for the teeming population of the community.
Now known as the Bida Emirate, the Nupe Kingdom was established in the middle of the 15th century in a basin between the Niger and Kaduna rivers, in what is now central Nigeria.
Etsu Nupe is the title given to the leader of the Nupe people. They are known for their brass works.
After receiving advice and recommendations from the Etsu Nupe on Wednesday, the leader of the NIPSS delegation, Nasirdeen Usman, presented an award to the traditional ruler.
The NIPPS delegation has been touring the state since Monday to understudy its health sector, especially the primary health system.
The visit is coordinated by NIPPS, in collaboration with the Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC).