Nigeria loses N81bn annually to medical tourism, tourism expert says

Nigerians who travel abroad for medical treatment are medical refugees, people who are forced to leave their country to escape death due to poor health care.

 

Nigeria loses over N81 billion annually to medical tourism, a tourism expert has said.

Ufuoma Okotete, Director, Diamond Helix Medical Assistance, an international medical referral organisation, disclosed this on Thursday in an interview.

She said that an average air ticket to India cost about N250 thousand adding that the Indian High Commission in Lagos issues about 40 medical visas per day.

She said this is as a result of lack of medical facilities and treatment procedures in the country.

“The Nigeria medical situation is so sad; we lack modern medical facilities and well functioning multi-medical specialty, poor diagnostic services and poor infrastructure.

“We lack national healthcare plan, and if there are any, it is not implemented to meet the needs of the people thus increasing the rate of medical tourism,” she said.

Ms. Okotete said that Nigerians fall into the category of “Medical Refugees”, a person who has been forced to leave the country in order to escape death from unavailable medical needs”.

She said that the high cost of getting medical attention outside the country has caused many people to sell their properties and some died because they could not afford it.

Ms. Okotete said medium surgery patients spend as much as eight thousand dollars for treatment while a spinal surgery patient spends about $15 thousand dollars.

“Renal transplant surgeries cost about $20 thousand without after surgery maintenance.

“An average cardiac surgery cost about eight thousand dollars for children and $15 thousand dollars for adult. A cancer patient spends more than $20 thousand dollars for the total cost of treatment.

“An air ambulance to Germany cost N20 million while an average ambulance charter to India cost N30 million.

“All these huge amount of money goes out of Nigeria everyday whereas, we can keep them here, if we do the right thing,” she said.

Mr. Okotete said that there is need to adopt extensive collaborations in the health sector, “by increasing the budgetary allocation to health and private partnership in healthcare system”.

“More investment in the private sector because the public sector is a smaller provider of health care than the private sector,” Mr. Okotete said.

She also called on the Federal Government to create conducive environments that would encourage investors to invest in the nation’s health sector.

 

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