7 November 2012

Nigeria: Okowa - Nigerians Spend N80 Billion On Overseas' Medical Treatment Annually

Photo: daily trust
Nigerian citizens protest for health facilities.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Tuesday disclosed that Nigerians spent a whopping sum of N80 billion annually on medical treatment abroad.

He said the seventh Senate was determined to reverse the trend by considering two health bills which were presently receiving attention by the lawmakers.

He added that the two bills had scaled first reading in the upper legislative chamber.

Okowa made the disclosure when the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who was represented by the Minster of State for Health, Dr. Mohammed Pateh, came on the invitation by the Senate to defend its 2013 budget proposal of N297 billion.

The chairman, Senate Committee stated that 20 per cent of the 2013 budget provided in its capital expenditure was too small and unacceptable, adding that the prevalence of polio transmission in the country despite the provision of N4billion in the 2012 is still far below expectation.

He added that Nigerians were becoming increasingly worried about the standard of health services delivery in the country.

He charged the team to put their heads together to restore confidence back into the country's health sector.

He expressed hope that the last National Council on Health which brought stakeholders in the health sector together to align its health policy to be in tandem with evidence was a step in the right direction.

He said there was apprehension on whether the country could meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Articles (4) (5) and (6). He added that President Goodluck Jonathan's Universal Health Coverage to save one million lives between 2013 and 2015 was a step in the right direction.

He said governments must align its developmental programmes to its health programmes to include the three tiers of government.

In his remarks, Chukwu stated that the ministry was presently faced with a lot of challenges especially in the area of identifying the responsibilities of states and local government areas in the health services.

He added that there had been remarkable improvement in the private-led medical practice.

"Today we can boost of some of our hospitals locally that render better services, and well-equipped than some of these hospitals abroad," he said.

The minister added that what the sector needed in some cases was enlightenment on the facilities that they have.

The University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, he said, performed a breakthrough recently in the history of medical practice in the country.

Chukwu stated that renewed vigour would be focused in sensitising Nigerians on the danger of tobacco consumption. He said tobacco consumption had been found to be responsible for several ailments, adding that the ministry would also seek national legislation to stem it consumption because of the danger involved.

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