The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, has disclosed that the ninth National Assembly hasn’t mapped out strategies to discourage medical tourism abroad with the resuscitation of specialized centres in federal tertiary hospitals.
He added that a minimum of one centre would also be identified and designated as centre of excellence in each of the nation’s geopolitical zones to enable Nigerians undergo treatment, thus reducing the quest for treatment in foreign countries.
Oloriegbe spoke in Ilorin on Saturday on the sidelines of a town hall meeting he held with the people of Kwara Central Senatorial District where he gave account of his stewardship in almost seven months in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.
He explained that some Nigerians travel abroad for treatment due to lack of information on availability of manpower and equipment needed in local hospitals.
The legislator informed that cancer fund had been created with the 2020 budget, pointing out that one of the issues responsible for treatment abroad was the availability of certain specialized equipment.
He said the Senate had agreed with stakeholders to establish a database to link all hospitals with media broadcast to keep Nigerians abreast of what is available.
Oloriegbe stated that brain drain in the medical profession was also being tackled with the provision of fund for Residency Training Programme, adding that talks are ongoing with the Federal Ministry of Health to make available incentives for medical practitioners in the country.
“Medical tourism is a major issue we considered in the 2020 budget. As the Chairman Health Committee, we discussed extensively on how we can reduce it to the barest minimum; we engaged stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Health and heads of federal tertiary hospitals.
Of course, there are many reasons why people go abroad for treatment. There are those we cannot prevent, those who have the resources. They are not going because of lack of manpower or services here; they are going because they just believe they want the best hotels and Nigerians are those treating them.
What we want to do is to identify minimum of at least one centre per geopolitical zones that will be designated centre of excellence to treat what makes Nigerians to go out. Part of the main issue is the availability of certain specialized equipment, and we have used 2020 budget to create cancer fund.
We have also looked at the budget of various teaching hospitals and we identified some hospitals where we have allocated resources to make them to do better. National Hospital is one of such. If you looked at the 2020 budget, it didn’t come from the executive; it was our initiative, to put certain resources in the national hospital for certain area of cancer treatment.”
The legislator said the town hall meeting was to serve as feedback mechanism for his constituents and to also get their inputs on his representation.