7 November 2012

Nigeria Loses N80 Billion Annually to Oversea Medical Trips

Photo: daily trust
Nigerian citizens protest for health facilities.

The Senate Committee on Health yesterday lamented that about N80bn is spent annually by Nigerians seeking better medical treatment abroad.

Speaking during a budget defence by Ministry of Health and parastatals under their purview, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, describing spending in the health sector as worrisome, and wondered why only 20 percent of health budget should be on capital expenditure.

He noted that "the need for Nigerians to begin to have renewed confidence that the health sector can actually provide them with health care is serious."

He urged the ministry to improve on its data collection and its authenticity, just as sought the prioritisation of infrastructure in the sector.

Underscoring the need for the National Health Bill to be passed, he said it would go a long way in tackling the problems in the health sector.

He called on the ministry to begin to work for sustainable funding to health the primary, secondary and tertiary health sectors, urging them to conduct true advocacy programmes to improve the health status of people in the rural areas.

In his response, the Minister of State for Health, Ali Pate, who represented the Minister, noted that most Nigerian patients who travel abroad for medical treatment use private hospitals and added that there was an ongoing move to find out why private hospitals in Nigeria were not doing well.

He cited capital problems, policy constraints, and regulatory framework as militating against private hospitals.

He however noted that the policy thrust of government was targeted towards placing preventive health care measures at the same level as curative health care. He also advocated for the strong legislation, like the Tobacco Bill, to help stem illnesses like cancer.

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