Korean ambassador wants a share of the ‘US$1bn’ from Nigerian medical travellers

The Korean ambassador to Nigeria is quoted in the Independent saying that the Republic of Korea is ‘preparing grounds for a share of the US$1 billion per annum spend by 30,000 Nigerians’ on medical tourism outside the country, in the medical areas of cardiology, orthopaedics, cancer and renal dialysis. He gave no source for these figures.

Korean ambassador Lee In Tae described Nigeria as a major source market for medical tourism because of the lack of robust national health insurance framework and the import substitution gap, arising from the ability of Nigeria’s indigenous pharmaceutical companies and medical centres to only meet about 45% of the demand for drugs and medical equipment.

Lee stated in the article that South Korea is an emerging leader in the global healthcare market and is noted for advanced medical technologies, cutting-edge hardware and IT-based infrastructure, that allow patients to receive high-quality healthcare at affordable prices through high-tech hardware and infrastructures like small cameras and robotic surgery.

According to him, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 population is about 13.55, well above the OECD countries’ average of five while in 2017, Korea has 120,630 doctors and 355,524 nurses as practicing physicians.

Lee said medical costs in Korea were 20-30% of those in the United States, while medical services were still on a similarly high level, adding that a liver transplant that costs about US$575,000 in the United States would generally cost about US$130,000 in Korea.