A former Minister of State for Health, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has urged the federal and state governments to ban medical tourism for Nigerians who go abroad for treatment, using the tax payers money.
He also urged the government to provide an enabling environment for the private health sector and also to equip its hospitals with the kind of facilities found in foreign hospitals.
Pate stated this on the day he made this known during the Third Distinguished Guest Lecture organised by the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Ondo State. The lecture was titled The Future of Health and Promise of Primary Health Care in Nigeria.
He said, “Almost all those who travel abroad for medical care attend private hospitals, not government hospitals, in those countries.
“They also pay exorbitant amounts which, if we had developed the sector, individual burdens would have diminished and steady revenue stream would have been developed, to encourage the private health sector and keep our foreign exchange in reserves.”
In his remarks, the state Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, said there was a need for government to make primary health care accessible and affordable for the people.
He, however, noted that many government officials did embezzle the money meant for the health sector and would prefer to solicit assistance from the international organisations.
The governor said the achievement of his immediate predecessor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in the health sector was laudable and his administration would continue to build on it.
Akeredolu said the state was able to emerge one of the leading states in the sector in Nigeria due to the efforts of the immediate past administration.
He said, “My predecessor was able to take Ondo State to the top in the health sector in the country because he is a medical doctor but we will make sure we do not sleep in the position we are, we will keep on growing.”
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Friday Okonofua, in his remarks said the governments at all levels had not been taking the issue of primary health care of the citizen seriously in the country.