Medical tourism draining Nigeria’s reserves – VON DG Okechukwu

Yemi Osinbajo
Yemi Osinbajo

The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria has decried the enormous amount of money Nigerians spend on medical tourism in other countries.

He made this known on Thursday in an opening remark at the commencement of a two-day national health dialogue organised by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, the Project for Advocacy in Child and Family Health, PACFaH, and the Project Pink Blue.

The event held at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.

The health dialogue was chaired by the vice president, and hosted by the Minister for Health, Isaac Adewole.

The Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi II; acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance scheme, Attahiru Ibrahim; the DG of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, Sani Aliyu; the Executive Director, Nigeria Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, were among keynote speakers at the health dialogue.

In his speech, Mr. Okechukwu said medical tourism has cost Nigeria billions of dollars.

“We want to stop that trend because it is draining our reserves,” he said.

Although Mr. Okechukwu represented Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the event, he later contacted PREMIUM TIMES to say the quote represents his personal opinion.

Thousands of Nigerians travel abroad each year to seek medical treatment as the nation’s health care system remains poorly funded.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday returned from London after nearly four months of medical leave.

The administration has not disclosed the president’s condition or how much is spent treating him, but analysts estimate Nigeria spends several millions of naira for the president’s healthcare abroad.

Mr. Okechukwu said healthcare for Nigerians is important to the Buhari administration.

He explained that the president was interested in health issues, but said poverty was also a major issue to look at.

He urged the states to also join in so as to ensure universal health coverage in the country.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The statements and the quote in the report were initially credited to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was invited for the event and was represented by Mr. Okechukwu. The VON Director General, however, contacted PREMIUM TIMES after the event to say though he represented Mr. Osinbajo at the event, the views expressed were his. “While I stood in for the Vice President at the said event, I also did express my own views at the said seminar, including those regarding the Medical Tourism and the attendant concerns and challenges,” he said.
The story has therefore been edited to reflect the views as Mr. Okechukwu’s.


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  • AFRICANER

    Several millions of Naira to treat Buhari?

    Is that per hour, or per day?

  • curseless

    My dear Vice President the answer to this situation is simple. For the last many years many of us in the medical profession in the diaspora have urged the Nigerian government to upgrade at least six teaching hospitals from each zone in Nigeria to a world standard center with qualified medical and nursing staff to back it up. The second and the most important is to discourage the government officials and politicians to bail out of the country for every flimsy ailments as this only suggest they lack confidence in our own system and this must start from the President, all the way down. When and if we lack the expertise in some area of intensive care such can be referred to higher centers abroad

  • Dazmillion

    First it was a demented herdsman coming back from London and hungry impoverished imbeciles rushing to welcome him at the airport, next it was that rats would not allow the demented herdsman work at his office and is forced to work from home, who by the way doesn’t have primary school certificate, . now it is that medical tourism is draining Nigeria reserves, coming from the impish lying pastor.

    This begs the question who then is the greatest medical tourist in the history of Nigeria, one who even parks a jetliner at heathrow airport for over 100 days at tax payers expense including all medical bills plus hotel bill of numerous aides.

    Yeye the smell big time

  • Tijani

    Fake pastor fake professor VP Osinbajo has a nerve to open his stinking mouth to bemoan medical tourism after Buhari just squandered Nigeria’s money on his undisclosed ailment. Bold faced cheek and audacity. God punish Buhari and Osinbajo.

    • Amir

      Femi the drug addict. Na you biko!!

      • Rosebud

        Femi Adesina ba? Is he a drug addict too? No wonder!!!

        • Tunji Olarewaju

          No,he’s talking about Femi Faniweeds, the loquacious biafools minister of propaganda!

          • Rosebud

            How do you know that’s who?

          • Tunji Olarewaju

            Because Faniweeds is a drug addict!

  • MilitaryPolice01

    VP Osibanjo should have just kept it quiet because this has made him sound like a hypocrite. I mean the number 1 supremo of his govt just came back from a 103 day medical tourism. With all the money spent on Buhari, his aides, and the jet that was parked at Stansted at the cost of thousands of pounds per day, how else can the draining of our reserves be described.

  • Daniel

    Osinbanjo has become a disgrace!

    Go tell Buhari your lamentations.

  • Yego V

    WE have never had a president who wasted our resources on medical tourism like Buhari. Despite not disclosing his ailment and medical bills, I can bet Buhari spent more than any previous president. He is the only president that has stayed longest abroad seeking medical treatment. ( May God punish him for vilifying Late president Yaradua, then in similar situation). The other sad aspect is this: Governors, senators, ministers and other leaders ceased the opportunity to swindle our wealth under the disguise of paying Buhari visit. Saraki and Dogara visiting, not just once but TWICE. In the same manner may God punish all of them for wasting our wealth. I can swear the monies spent on these trips was not funded from their personal accounts. How more evil can our leaders be. After being forced out of London, Buhari is back not much different from when he left. He cannot withstand 1-3 hours of FEC meeting. Insulting us with an excuse of receiving a report, which should take no more than 10 minutes. He cannot be wheeled to his office from bedroom claiming rat invasion. Instead of using “ota pia-pia” they are now spending millions to have, according to Adesina, a REPLICA of a Presidents office inside his house. How much more insane can this people be. I regret agitating for Buhari to return home. I hope he returns to anywhere soonest.

  • Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya

    Tell that to certificate forger and perjurer Muhammadu Buhari who, apart from the millions of pound sterling he has spent on medical tourism so far, also wasted US$500,000 on parking fees for an aircraft he senselessly stationed at Stansted Airport for more than 100 days at $5000/day.

    • Amir

      This amount is a drop compared to the ocean of roguery and theft of public funds by the Jona discredited administration. Patience and Diezani has never contested or won any election yet have millions of dollars in their account. Orafifoolishness, are you happy about that? Even if Buhari’s certificates are Indomie labels, or his health deteriorated to a skeleton he will still win a free and fair election against Dr Joe. Live with it.

      • Omooba Adekunle Orafidiya

        You are an unhinged lunatic.

      • Rosebud

        The topic is medical vacation and government lamentation not made up history.

      • 0tile

        Have you checked the amount Hajiya Turai and her concubines stashed away? Hypocrite.

      • MilitaryPolice01

        That is not the issue, whether irrespective of what Ebele Joe and his Oil Minister did, the topic of discourse is medical tourism and not one comes to mind more than Buhari. Allow light to shine in your darkness, just then you may see things objectively

  • CEO

    Clearly, Osinbajo chose to be represented by loquacious Osita Okechukwu, not because he was too busy to attend the health dialogue, but because he is too ashamed to lament about Nigerians medical tourism in such a setting. Who would blame the poor guy? His boss was away for 104 days on same medical vacation in London, with the presidential jet parked on the tarmac, accruing thousands of pounds per day in parking fees, not to talk of the undisclosed amount wasted on his treatment. His boss who stubbornly insisted on residing in London until his doctors can give him a clean health bill, suddenly changed his mind and returned home as soon as he got wind of the clearance granted by the London Metropolitan Police to protesters, who planned indefinite demonstration in front of the Abuja House where the “sick” man was putting up resistance. Osinbajo’s frustrations are quite understandable. I think he is no different from Femi Adesina. They must speak from both sides of the mouth for filthy lucre sake.

  • The Rt. or Lft. Hon NinjaK

    Interesting comment ….. from the Deputy to a confirmed Medical Tourist!
    double speak…..or……naija speak?

    • Rosebud

      Excellently put! I wondered which Nigerians he was referring to. Over to you Mr President.

    • Sanssouci

      @Oleku calls it Zoo Talk lol!
      Osinbajo fears God sha, that’s why he couldn’t use his own mouth to speak this but sent Osita Okechukwu with the message.

      • MilitaryPolice01

        and Osita Okechukwu wasnt ashamed to propagate the hypocrisy

  • dami

    The reality is that nigeria will pay for Buhari’s health care bill anywhere in the world wether he is president or not – cos his ex president pension allows for this…nigeria pays for Jonathan / babangida / Gowon / ekwueme / Abdulsalam / obj / shonekan till they die…them and their families…that’s what the ex-president’s pension allows as a benefit….so really not sure what Nigerians are complaining about….meanwhile this law ain’t new.

  • Liberty

    But, poor funding may not be the most significant hindrance to quality health care delivery in Nigeria after all.

    We tend to ignore the attitude of Nigerians in professional practices, including those in the health care sector. Take a visit to a Nigerian hospital and you may swear never to step into any health care facility, on the grounds of the attitude of people who are supposed to be care giver. And, it doesn’t matter if the case is a simple one as not to require any sophisticated equipment.

    May Allaah continue to bless us! Even if its malaria, I will still choose to go else where, at least Benin Republic, to procure medical service, if I have the resources.

    A lot of people go abroad, even over hopeless cases because of the very uncaring attitude of the care givers back home, irrespective of the level of service that they may have the capital to provide.

    • 0tile

      But they don’t treat Buhari and his elites shabby, so why are they running away to drain our purse?

  • 0tile

    How can Osinbajo not say that Buhari’s medical treatment is the number one issue in this regard? The money spent on Buhari’s medical treatment of his unknown disease for 12 days alone can feed everybody in IDP for one year.

    • Rommel

      There is no known medical treatment that costs 500,000.00 pounds sterling throughout its duration, such ailment is not yet known to man.

      • Gary

        Nazi, it’s always advisable not dabble into subjects of which you are ignorant. There are cancer therapies and surgical procedures requiring long hospital care that will easily set you back a million dollars within six months.
        So stick with the propaganda you know for the BMC and stop spouting ignorance.

      • 0tile

        What are you talking about? …no known medical treatment…such ailment is not known… bla, bla, bla. You don’t many sense at all.

        • Truthman

          Has he ever made sense?

  • GusO

    Traveling abroad for medical tourism by the average Nigerian is relatively recent. Most Nigerians received treatment at home in the 70s, 80s and 90s. But the politicians not only did not keep our hospitals up to date beginning in the 90s, they actually ignored them and allowed them to deteriorate until they became completely dilapidated. Thus our top medical doctors abandoned ship and moved abroad to keep current with their fields of expertise. Rather than lament medical tourism, the government should revamp our healthcare industry and systems to be world class again. That’s the only way to stop medical tourism.

  • FEMI A USA

    If tax payers are not paying for it, anyone can where ever he/she wants. Is a free choice. By the way, why are Nigerians relying on governments for many? This impede the progress on many thing instead of embracing private investors. These clinics and hospitals equipments were taken by people of this Industry for their private practices.

    • ‘Breaking News’

      Breaking News:
      ……………………

      President Muhamadu Buhari will destroy Nigeria
      with ignorance if care is not taken. Already things are falling down
      all around the place. He’s started a latest mess. He’s proposed to make a
      FAIL GRADE in JAMB exam the proper standard for admission into Nigerian
      universities. Now, according to the thoughtless Buhari government, any student
      who fails JAMB university entrance exam and scores 30% shall be admitted into a
      Nigerian university.

      All hell’s been let loose across Nigeria after this daft proposal
      by the Buhari government. Students unions took to the streets in
      protest to save what’s left of Nigeria’s internationally un-recognized
      university certificate which Buhari proposes to make more worthless by
      making a fail grade okay for university admission for the benefit of usually failing
      Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri Muslim students. Academic staff of universities have hurriedly
      issued a harsh statement to condemn and reject Buhari’s latest nonsense.

      • Jideofor

        Nonsense!!! We igbos are supporting Buhari die hard now all he has proposed are good policies and should be accepted by Nigerians. Our universities are worthless so should it’s students and it’s certificates cause the same lecturers collect bribe in cash and kind to pass students or don’t they? We are all in support of Buhari now in Igbo land just be sure of this.

    • arrowhead

      @disqus_GGj80DnB8f:disqus

      YEMI OSINBAJO NEVER MADE SENSE TO ME. HE SAYS THE WRONG THING AT THE RIGHT TIME,

      OR HE JUST BLUNDERS ALL THROUGH WITH PLATITUDES WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT OR DEPTH.

      THIS IS WRONG TIME TO TALK OF MEDICAL TOURISM WHEN HIS BOSS IS THE FIRST ACCUSED.

      • 0tile

        Yet he beats Imam hands down.

  • LionHeart

    Osibaba, your oga na number 1 for overseas medical tourism. I am happy you are beginning to realise how much it’s draining the Nigerian economy. Why can’t we equip our hospitals to meet world standard and send our doctors overseas for proper training? Common sense!

  • tsunami1earthquake

    Shhhhhh,,,Osinbajo, don’t talk too loud! Don’t allow Buhari to hear this, otherwise both of you would fall out and become archenemies! Haba, Osinbajo!

  • Quency Olajide Oyegoke

    Let us get things straight. I believe the VP meant medical trip and not medical tourism. Medical trip means going for medical treatment elsewhere while medical tourism means going to see medical facilities that could be of interest to you and your people. What should be condemned is medical trip and not medical tourism.

    • So oju abe niko

      Quency, it is now universally called medical tourism when you visit another country specifically for medical intervention. Africans do it due to lack of medical facilities. Westerners run to India, Cuba, etc, due to significantly lower cost or due to long waiting times for procedures that may involve organ donations.

  • Olu-Lion

    I will advise that we pick just 6 Federal Medical Center and put the best of all the best facilities in the world in there. This can cost more than 500 billion. And citizens made to pay for services.

    • U.A.S.

      I can not agree with you any less.

  • g_kazaure

    Fake Pastor, imp and fake professor is just trying to indict our President indirectly. We will expose him very soon. All his antics to become substantive president has failed and now he is resorting to blackmailing the president. What is this statement for?

    • 0tile

      Don’t go that way. Nigerians will be better off with Osinbajo as the substantive president, Imam is a disasters, and you know it.

  • Capt Sankara

    Starting from the very Top….. next time your boss leaves for London again, una go find another unintelligent lie lie !

  • Rommel

    The administration of Goodluck “tragedy” Jonathan had access to over $250 Billion yet nobody can point to anything that was achieved as infrastructure, $5 Billion from that amount could have eliminated this problem for the next 20yrs but never, now we are forced to deal with these issues almost empty handed.

    • thusspokez

      Yeah Goodluck eat your hamster! Don’t mention the fact that Nigeria’s National Health Act was passed in 2014.

    • Ossy

      Oga why this government did not put it right since thy entered

    • 0tile

      Buhari has failed Nigerians woefully.

    • lavard Isa

      ‘Rommel’ you must be a comic act. I suppose Goodluck Jonathan checked Buhari into Wellington Hospital in London for a medical holiday.

    • Truthman

      It’s Rommel nau. It will always be Jonathan. Jonathan constructed more roads than any previous government and got power up to 50%. So says his archenemy, Fashola himself. Indeed, so hard did Jonathan work that no new road projects would be embarked upon by this government. You will be quick to point out ‘but the govt had to pay contractors.’ Of course, every government must inherit some debt on roads as contractors don’t get fully paid before they complete their work. By the way, it would also interest you that Jonathan established 14 new universities and constructed the Abuja-Kaduna light rail. Need I go on? Of course, your regime is still talking about building ultramodern hospitals as if they don’t realise they have just 18 months left!

    • Mosley

      What has Jonathan got to do with health tourism draining our foreign reserve? Is this not ‘hate speech’?

  • thusspokez

    You are in government, Mr.VP. So enough yada yada yada and do something about it. Even the Nigerian constitution demands local health service for all:

    17 (3) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that-

    (d) there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons:

  • gboyegaa

    The president did not show any example on that. He just returned from the 2nd of such this year.