Nigeria should not ban outbound medical tourism

Binos Dauda Yaroe, a Senator representing Adamawa south Senatorial district in the National Assembly, has said banning medical tourism is not a solution to Nigeria’s health challenges. He stated that the only way to end medical tourism is for the country to upgrade its health facilities so that not only Nigerians but people from outside the country can visit Nigeria to get the best of medical care.

Mr Yaroe argued, “I believe that anybody that has a means to get the kind of services he wants to get can go anywhere and get it. The challenge we have is to upgrade our own health facilities. It is only when we address these infrastructural challenges in the health sector and make it a world class standard that we can end medical tourism. It is the responsibility of government to put in place policies that will improve the health sector so that our people can receive their health care treatment here in Nigeria rather than going outside the country. That should not be done by way of a law prohibiting people from going outside the country to get medical attention.”

The chairman of the Cross River State Caucus in the National Assembly, Senator Gershom Bassey, wants the federal government to establish six special hospitals, one in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country. If special hospitals were established, they would boost healthcare delivery, and promote medical tourism into Nigeria.

The Navy Reference Hospital in Calabar, recently established by the federal government, is one of the special hospitals he is referring to.

The senator said that the time has come for Nigeria to lift the country’s health sector to international standards. He does not subscribe to the idea of banning political office holders, including the president from going abroad for medical treatment.

The Guild of Medical Directors intends to reverse the trend of medical tourism in Nigeria by encouraging Nigerian private hospitals to be able to handle the cases where people go overseas, with improved technology and expertise. The Guild believes getting better health financing with single-digit loan terms will help Nigeria’s hospitals to deliver quality health care. They also stated that convincing Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora to take part in exchange programmes and training with their contemporaries in Nigeria will also help in reversing the trend of medical tourism in the country.