The Federal Government said on Friday a web-based directory of all health care facilities and specialists in Nigeria was underway as part of its effort to curb medical tourism.
Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said this at the 21st Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference of the Guild of Medical Directors of Private Hospitals in Abuja.
Represented by Dr Omobolanle Olowu, the Head of the Public Private Partnership and Diaspora Unit, Chukwu said the database would enable the public to identify top-class health facilities and specialists across the country
The Federal Ministry of Health has commenced work on the establishment of a web-based directory of all health care facilities in Nigeria. This is to create awareness for the public of the existence of high end specialist facilities and top-class health personnel in the country.The target is that, in due course, there shall be in existence in the county, an effective and efficient national patient referral system.This will certainly reduce medical tourism out of Nigeria. Our ultimate goal is to actually reverse medical tourism”.
To achieve this, government has continued with the upgrade of facilities in our tertiary hospitals and has stepped up human capacity building activities that culminated last year in the restoration of the overseas component of the residency training programme. This includes refresher courses and highly specialised training-of-trainers abroad.’’
The minister said the Federal Government had introduced public-private partnership that would ensure an effective health care delivery and encourage investment in the health sector.
According to him, some investment opportunities for the private sector which will help end medical tourism include establishment of state-of-the-art specialist hospitals, trauma centres, mobile clinics and a national diagnostic centre in Abuja.
Others are emergency ambulance scheme, vaccine product plants, reference laboratory for quality assurance of medical products and establishment of private suites in tertiary hospitals.
Chukwu also restated the resolve of the Federal Government to provide incentives for private sector investors, including the provision of lands, tax relief and waivers.
In his remarks, the National President of the Guild, Dr Tony Phillips, said that medical tourism had resulted in worsening the health status of patients in general.
The other aspect is the travelling of patients for medical examination abroad. As a body we are not against that, but our concern is the result of most of these trips.
Our members are usually at the receiving end of these trips, either by having these patients re- referred back by doctors there, who know our medical giants here, or having used them as guinea pigs are sent back to die here or die there.
These practices can be stopped by a proper regulator – Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria – or providing intervention methods for health as it is available to agriculture, textile Industry, Nollywood and others.’’
Also speaking, the Gombe State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ishaya Kennedy, called for attitudinal change by health personnel to curtail medical tourism.
If the doctor, as the head of the team, will have a change of attitude, it will flow down to the patient.’’
Kennedy said that the state government had set up a committee to handle “destructive behavior of health workers and patients as part of the effort to improve on professional ethics in the sector.
The theme of this year’s AGM is: “Funding Health Care in Nigeria to Provide World Class Hospitals, A Panacea for Medical Tourism.’’