Nigeria plans to block outbound medical tourism
The Federal Government is adopting a three-point strategic approach to stop outbound medical tourism from Nigeria.
The plans are the National Health Agenda (NHA), National Health Gazette (NHG) and the National Health Act. Professor Isaac Adewole, minister of health, explains that effective implementation of the NHA, HG and the National Health Act will boost the country’s health sector.
Together the three are part of a new focus in the ministry and government to stop medical tourism.
The ministry will focus on maximising optimal use of available resources, the provision of specialised care for Nigerians and changing the direction and destination of medical tourism.
According to the Ministry of Health over $1bn is being spent by Nigerians on medical tourism abroad annually. The Trade Union Congress agrees with the Nigerian government that it should discourage Nigerians from embarking on medical tourism to treat ailments that can effectively be handled by hospitals in Nigeria.
Adewole says, "We should be able to reduce medical tourism such that in five years’ time, many fewer Nigerians will go abroad for treatment. We will make our teaching hospitals work and do public -private partnerships that focus on derivable benefits.
"The aim is to achieve full universal health coverage. Within a short time we can deal with 60 to 70% of healthcare needs within Nigeria."
He adds, "We will equip the hospitals and other public health facilities as well as re-orient the medical and health personnel to adopt positive work attitude to ensure quality and efficient healthcare delivery to our people.
"We will boost the capacity of our health workers to enable them render accurate diagnosis of diseases and sustain the training and retraining of staff."
The government plans to roll out the universal health insurance soon but declines to give dates.
The Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme is targeting at least 40 million Nigerians for the scheme in 2016. It is not mandatory for Nigerians to join but all Federal employees have been placed on the scheme. ■