Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says the state is establishing specialist hospitals to reduce medical tourism and brain drain in the health sector. He was speaking during the just concluded AKWAABA Travel Market which held at the Eko Hotel Towers and Suites Lagos.
According to him, the state has identified trust, and lack of medical specialties, as factors driving Nigerians overseas for medical care. He said the state government is working to ensure this trend is reversed to make the state a medical tourist destination.
He said the government would continue to invest in human resources, and set standards as well as suitable policies to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare services.
The commissioner said the state was embarking on a digital footprint that would connect all health facilities, to holistic and collective data on the health-seeking behaviour of Lagosians. According to him, the state would continue to evolve favorable policies to attract doctors in the Diaspora, back to Nigeria, either fully or partly.
He said the state has a good number of general hospitals but what these Hospitals lack are specialist facilities, According to him, specialist care can be accessed by patients at both government and private hospitals.
”We are building more specialist hospitals. As you know, we are moving away from surgical interventions, where we put you on a theater table, we cut you open, and do the things we want to do as Surgeons. What we are using now is Telescopic surgery or keyhole surgeryfacility, where wee will be specializing in putting telescopes into your body through tiny incisions to do the same thing as cutting you up as we use to do in the olden days.
It is going to be commissioned in the next few weeks and they are going to start services in a couple of weeks from now. These are the kinds of facilities that are attracting our Doctors abroad. But wee have an alternative strategy, its called brain gain. And these are the kind of facilities that will reactivate ‘brain gain”
Over the years, Nigeria’s healthcare system and infrastructure have been consistently ranked one of the poorest given the size of its economy and earnings from resources. What is often overlooked is how outbound medical tourism among the country’s political elite remains a salient but overlooked cause of poor health systems and infrastructure. However, Medical tourism expert Usman Isa who was also one of the speakers at the event is of the opinion that Nigeria good medical doctors and facilities in the country which if given due attention could see more Nigerians travelling within the country, rrather than outside the country for medical attention.
”You may have a good hospital close to your house and you will not know because hospitals are not allowed to promote themselves as it is against the ethics of the profession. But foreign health care professionals come to Nigeria to promote themselves, what is our problem.
”There was a time Citizens of India travel out for medical treatment, but now they hardly do, they dont go out. And there are seven things I want you to understand about medical tourism; Availability of treatment, affordability of treatment, accessibility of treatment. If a patient is ill, for example he or she has cancer, and resides in Lekki, he cannot not stay there and die because it is not available, He or she will go to where the treatment is accessible, affordable and available. These are some of the factors that drive domestic medical tourism. And already a lot of us are one way or the other involved but we tend to shy away from the obvious fact.