Claims that commissions paid to by Indian hospitals pay Nigerian doctors is a key reason for high outbound numbers.
Professor Temitope Alonge of University College Hospital, Ibadan, claims that many Nigerian patients go to a foreign hospital when treatment is available in Nigeria, as too many doctors in Nigeria refer patients to overseas hospitals in India because of the commissions they get for such referrals.
Alonge argues, “Some unscrupulous Nigerian doctors have abandoned credible ways of amassing wealth and have become the conduit of medical tourism by providing negative reports about the health care service centres in Nigeria to justify referring a patient. The foreign hospitals have struck deals with the referring Nigerian doctors who ultimately get the full treatment fee on the sixth patient with a particular ailment like congenital heart diseases. Medical tourism is primarily engineered and fuelled by Nigerian businessmen and health care workers, mostly doctors.”
Stressing the need for the federal government to invest massively in health care centres, Alonge says that that while India has 120 cancer centres, Nigeria has none, while Nigeria is still battling with endemic communicable diseases “Adoption of western life style with gross indiscipline as regards dietary discretion, lack of exercise and increasing stress levels are forerunners of diabetes mellitus and hypertension and their accompanying complications.”
While locals are building some Nigerian hospitals, the number required means foreign investors are badly needed. Kenya has a similar problem and needs foreign investors.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta wants to reduce the cost of travel and accommodation of the 10,000 Kenyans and their families, who go to India each year for treatment. To attract investors Kenya claims the hospitals will attract medical tourists from East and Central Africa, but the overwhelming majority- and perhaps all, of the patients will be from Kenya.
Benin is so poor that only 200 to 500 Africans a year can even afford to go to India for medical treatment. It wants Indian groups to open clinics in Benin.