Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has decried the enormous amount of money Nigerians spend on medical tourism in other countries.
He made this known on Thursday in an opening remark at the commencement of a two-day national health dialogue organised by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, the Project for Advocacy in Child and Family Health, PACFaH, and the Project Pink Blue.
The event held at the Musa Yar’adua Centre in Abuja.
The health dialogue was chaired by the vice president, and hosted by the Minister for Health, Isaac Adewole.
The Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi II; acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance scheme, Attahiru Ibrahim; the DG of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, Sani Aliyu; the executive director, Nigeria Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, were among keynote speakers at the health dialogue.
In his speech, Mr. Osinbajo, represented by the director general, Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu, said medical tourism has cost Nigeria billions of dollars.
“We want to stop that trend because it is draining our reserves,” he said.
Thousands of Nigerians travel abroad each year to seek medical treatment as the nation’s health care system remains poorly funded.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday returned from London after nearly four months of medical leave.
The administration has not disclosed the president’s condition or how much is spent treating him, but analysts estimate Nigeria spends several millions of naira for the president’s healthcare abroad.
Mr. Osinbajo said healthcare for Nigerians is important to the Buhari administration.
He explained that the president was interested in health issues, but said poverty was also a major issue to look at.
He urged the states to also join in so as to ensure universal health coverage in the country.