At the inauguration of the West African College of Surgeon permanent secretariat in Lagos, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said that the Federal Government has stopped registrars from referring patients for treatment abroad. It has given the job to consultants.
It accused the registrars of conniving with patients to ask for foreign exchange (forex) for overseas treatment of cases that could easily be handled in the country, adding that this has led to a loss of about $1 billion yearly to medical tourism.
Adewole has said that to stop these indiscriminate referrals by registrars, “Only consultants now are authorised to refer patients for foreign treatments. No registrar can do that again, saying that Nigeria has many experts who can rise up to any medical challenge.
He has praised that the marvelous job’’ of Prof M.T. Shokunbi and his team at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, which handled a fibroid case successfully, thereby saving huge bills.
He has also praised the National Hospital, Abuja team, which treated a young girl with a large jaw tumour. The team operated for eight hours with various surgical teams. ‘’Nigerian medics know their onions indeed.
He has said that the Federal Government was committed to reversing medical tourism and had documented that the causes of medical tourism abroad are cancer, chronic renal problem (renal transplant) and heart diseases.
Adewole has said already that the government was upgrading seven tertiary health facilities for cancer care, and focusing on the upgrade of radiotherapy, adding that his ministry was discussing with two big vendors to provide machines, training and maintenance opportunities. “Corporate organizations, such as Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), are planning to support various centres aside the Federal Government interventions. We are also repaying outstanding bills for trainees in South Africa, in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-supported training, adding that the Federal Government was ready to partner the the college on any area to improve the quality of care, training and service delivery. He has commended the college’s members for building the six-floor edifice which cost N1 billion. He has appealed to the college’s authorities to reduce the training period of residents to five years.  WAC’s President, Prof Akinyinka Omigbodun has said that the institution would provide quality training for surgeons across the West African region and the construction of our permanent secretariat is the single largest project the college has ever embarked upon and the successful completion of the building is a testament to the strong support of Fellows have given our College. It will continue to serve for the training of postgraduate specialist training for physicians and surgeons, as well as other health care professionals in Nigeria and across other parts of West Africa. We pledge to work closely with Ministry of Health to improve surgical care for the teeming population of the nation. He has said that the secretariat would serve as a clinical skill centre where trainees would have a simulator-experience to practise the act of surgery before the experts handle patients. ‘’Digital library will be available as well. That will enhance their skill, identifying finance as the main challenge WACS is facing.
The institution’s Secretary-General, Dr. Olutola Olatosin, has said that members were happy to build a befitting headquarters for the college, noting that the West African College of Surgeons started off in Ibadan in December 1960 as Association of Surgeons of West Africa (ASWA). ‘’It is the professional body in the sub-region and comprised specialists in surgical specialties. Its first President was Sir Samuel Manuwa of blessed memory. West Africa, in this context, includes all countries within 20ºW and 20ºE of longitude and 20º North and 20º South of the equator i.e. from Mauritania to Democratic Republic of Congo. In order to achieve one of its cardinal objectives, i.e. to train surgical specialists in the sub-region, it resolved and became the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) in January 1973 and inherited all the assets and liabilities of ASWA. He has added that after over 40 years, WACS has trained about 5000 specialists in various surgical discipline, including surgery, anaesthesia, dental surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology,ophthalmology, ENT, and radiology. It has also trained about 800 diplomates in anaesthesia, ophthalmology and ENT. It has over 5, 000 Fellows across all fields of surgery and also diplomates. In the beginning, the College Secretariat was located in the office of whoever was elected the Secretary-General of the college.
He has added that‘’It was only 1989 that it moved to the present Secretariat in the headquarters of the now defunct West African Health Community. It shares the building with three other postgraduate colleges. So, this edifice is playing a big brother among other country members.

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