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Nigerians spend $1bn annually on medical tourism – FG

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, yesterday declared that Nigerians spend $1 billion yearly on medical tourism abroad, describing it as “unacceptable.”

Besides, he said, as at the end of June 2017, the number of Nigerians placed on antiretroviral therapy in the country is 1,050,594 as against 983,980 reported at the end of last year.

He made the declaration yesterday during the opening ceremonies of the 60th National Council on Health held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, with the theme “Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Health Sector: Matters Arising.”

“Not a day passes by, that I do not receive a request for financial support to defray the costs of medical treatment sought outside of the country. Data suggests over $1 billion is spent annually on medical tourism by Nigerians. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed decisively,” he said.

He said government was also implementing other HIV prevention and control programmes, including the fast-track programme in six states plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to reduce the HIV epidemic in the country.

Adewole said HIV/AIDS “remains a persistent threat to the health of Nigerians further straining the already struggling health care system and compromising the past developmental gains.”

“As at the end of June 2017, the number of individuals placed on antiretroviral therapy in the country is 1,050,594 as against 983,980 reported at the end of last year.

“Government is also implementing other HIV prevention and control programmes including the fast-track programme in six states plus the FCT to reduce the HIV epidemic in the country.”

The minister said the government would collaborate with state governments in revitalising the Primary Health Care, as it had ceased to be the first point of call for most Nigerians, despite being best positioned in terms of proximity and service packages.

“To correct this situation, we have reorganised the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to ensure effective healthcare delivery on its mandate.”

Ogun state Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in his remarks, noted that a healthy citizenry provided with a necessary ambience for self-fulfillment would not only be useful to themselves, but would be useful and valuable contributors to the society.

He said at this critical period while the nation was striving to diversify the economy from crude oil, it should realise that “only a healthy population can drive this policy.”

Amosun said the government must continue to break new grounds and ensure that the nation adequately tackled “maternal mortality, infant mortality, life expectancy, and emergency response time.”

According to him, these are globally acceptable measures of national development.

About Peter Moses, Abeokuta

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