The Federal government has planned to establish six Medical Centre of Excellence to cater for the health needs of Nigerians who seek medical treatment overseas.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, disclosed this on Saturday at a Town Hall meeting in Ilorin, Kwara Statement.
Oloriegbe said that the ninth National Assembly had mapped out strategies to discourage medical tourism abroad with the resuscitation of specialized centres in federal hospitals.
He added that a minimum of one centre would also be identified and designated centre of excellence in each of the nation’s geopolitical zones to enable Nigerians undergo treatment, thus reducing quest for treatment in foreign countries.
He explained that some Nigerians travel abroad for treatment due to lack of information.
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.
“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. 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.
“We looked at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital; it has a Centre for Bone marrow Transplantation, which has been abandoned for many years. We put resources for this. There is an Accident and Emergency at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, which the previous government had done concession. We said they should recover it and we put resources for this to be able to address that.
“We identified that we do have some resources that are not even known. Some people go out of this country due to the ignorance of the availability of manpower and equipment to manage that. So, we agreed to establish a database that will be linked to all hospitals and then there will be also a media broadcast to enable Nigerians to be aware of what is available. We are really working hard to do that,” he stated.
Furthermore, 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.
“Secondly is the Nigerian doctors or health professionals going abroad. We are able to address this through the provision of fund for Residency Training Programme, and we are also discussing with the Ministry of Health on how to create certain incentives that will enable Nigerian professionals to stay in Nigeria”, Oloriegbe said.