‘Medical tourism will soon be over in Nigeria’

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Nigeria national assembly complex

Medical tourism will soon be a thing of the past, the Chairman House Committee on Health Institutions at the House of Representatives, Dr. Paschal Chigozie Obi, has said.

Dr. Obi who gave this assurance when he led a delegation of his committee on an oversight visit to the Univerty of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) Wednesday said, also urged the need for the Federal Government to implement recommendations the committee made on bringing the facility of the teaching hospital to a world class standard.

“Medical tourism is expected to reduce because when we visited the institutions last year for oversight activities we made recommendations to the Federal Government and as soon as government implemented those recommendations medical tourism will be a thing of the past.

“We also expect the government government to go further by increasing the renumeration of health workers and make them have a better working environment and if these are done it will put am end to Medical tourism.

He said poor budgetary allocation to tertiary institutions in the past was the reason why hospitals were not well equipped adding that they were satisfied on the improvement in the appropriation bill which had enabled the renovation of the some facilities as well as construction of new blocks at the hospital.

“We thank the Federal Government especially the Federal Ministry of Health who listened to us and gave reasonable budgetary provisions to this Health Institution because when we visited last year we discovered that even their budget for the year 2020 was anything but good and yet we want them to perform magic which we know they cannit with bare hands.

“When we drew their attention to that they responded positively and and this year budget was increase with about 300 percent of the previous one.”

The Chief Medical Director, UATH Prof. Bissalla Ekele explained that the 280 million appropriation the hospital received in year 2020 have been well utilized with some projects completed while construction work is ongoing, however much still need to be achieved but for lack of funds.

“We were given only 284 million in the 2020 budget and that has not reflected in our activities as it should.
In procurement of equipments, the cardiovascular unit in particular with state of the art eco machines all supplied by G-international took a 110 million fully paid, supplied and functional.

“Expansion of the emergency casualty unit which was a carryover project from 2019 we spent 32million on that and job has been completed. There was also need to furnish the casualty complex it was our plan to buy 100 beds and side lockers which was to consume 32 million but we used that to furnish the wards in the first floor since an NGO was occupying the down floor at the time,” he explained.

He also said their biggest project in 2020 was the construction of the mental health ward which was to cost 248 million but only 100 million was appropriated but because of the importance of the project to the hospital, they paid the contractors all the 100 million they got and since five months of the foundation laying ceremony the 64-bed building is in fast progress.

Prof. Bissallah who said the teaching hospital has moved from 350 bed to a 520 bed hospital yet they still have challenges of bed space especially in the accident and emergency units added that they will continue to expand structure wise also saying they need skilled health workers to mann all the new places that they have opened.

“It’s not very easy to recruit into the system but the Federal Government has been kind to us in the health sector and I am sure when we bring our request to the appropriate authority they will oblige.”

He further said default, courtesy of the Coronavirus the Federal Government has appropriated and given them funds so that they can make gains in tern of infrastructure and equipment and that was one of their challenges and we have gotten over that.

“By the time we have the infrastructure, personnel and ambient environment, medical tourism will become a thing of the past. “Why will you go far when you have the necessary thing on ground? I think if we continue on the path we are now, it will help stop medical tourism.”

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