The former president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Osahon Enabulele, has rebuked public office holders for double standards on medical tourism. He is angry about the apparent disdain of the nation’s political class, their lack of patronage for medical facilities in the country, and particularly attacks those who publicly promote Nigeria health as combating outbound medical tourism while privately going overseas for their own treatment.
Although not mentioned by name, the remarks are targeted at the publicly reported flying out of Senator Godswill Akpabio for medical attention following an accident in Abuja Less than two months earlier, that politician publicly praised a hospital as something that would reduce the numbers of Nigerians going to India for medical treatment. This case probably sparked Enabulele’s anger as the modern health facility was commissioned and opened when Akpabio was governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Enabulele calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to make a policy statement on the utilisation of healthcare services in the country by political office holders. He wants the president to declare that he and members of his family and public office holders should utilise health facilities and personnel available within Nigeria and would only do otherwise in compliance with the National Health Act.
Enabulele explains,” Rather than utilise health facilities they claim to have constructed in their communities and therefore inspire citizens within their jurisdiction to do same, most of Nigeria’s political and public office holders take delight in travelling abroad for medical care under government sponsorship and at the expense of tax payers.”
He adds, “ These travels, which are sometimes for very basic medical conditions, have largely contributed to the humongous capital flight out of Nigeria, to the tune of well over $1 billion- with the Indian economy and hospitals securing over 50 % of this capital outflow due to foreign medical travels by Nigerians. It is shameful to see Nigerian public officers go to foreign hospitals for even the most basic medical consultation and health check-up.”