It was estimated, yesterday, that the capital flight for medical tourism in Nigeria stood at N250 billion, just as plans had been concluded to rake in a total of N8 billion for medical facilities in the country as part of the centenary celebration.
Disclosing this at a briefing in Abuja, Secretary, organising Committee of the Nigerian Centenary Charity Ball of the centenary celebration, Dr. Kingsley Esegbue said: “It is estimated that Nigeria spends N250 billion annually on foreign medical care.”
Esegbue who noted that the capital flight was unnecessary for a developing country like Nigeria, however, explained that the problems that caused these flights could be handled in Nigeria if the facilities were there.
According to him: “Sealing a hole in a child’s heart needs not cripple the parents financially or take place in India; replacing a damaged kidney should and can be done within our borders.
“Every breast, cervical or prostate cancer patient should have access to quality care within Nigeria.
“Our neuro-surgery units need to serve the Nigerian people; no woman should have her bladder torn giving birth and for victims of cruel acid attacks, re-constructive surgery should be done within our borders.
“For instance, while campaigning during elections the politicians promise heaven on earth; air-conditioners on our highways; free education, among others, only to often renege when they assume office.
“Nigeria is blessed with skilled healthcare professionals. What is required is the infrastructure/technology and perhaps the will. Certainly, this is what the Nigerian Centenary Charity Ball hopes to achieve by equipping already existing National Referral Centres for heart, kidney diseases, neuro-surgery, cancer care and management.
“This initiative intends to galvanise all Nigerians, including Nigerians in the Diaspora for a common good, as our collective gift to Nigeria on her anniversary. We will like to emphasise that in organising the Nigerian Charity Ball, we have chosen to be politically blind because what is at stake is our health as a people.”
When asked how much the Committee was targeting to assist the medical facilities from the Centenary Celebration, Esegbue said “between N5 billioin andN8 billion is being targeted, stressing that funds generated would be managed by a non-governmental and independent trust.”
In his contribution as a guest, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Abuja Council chairman, Chuks Ehirim condemned the political class, stating that the amount of money being spent on medical tourism was as result of lack of patriotism from the political leaders. [Vanguard]