2020 budget: What Senate is doing to discourage medical tourism – Oloriegbe




The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, weekend said that the ninth National Assembly had mapped out strategies to discourage medical tourism abroad, parts of the measures, he said, was the creation of cancer fund with the 2020 budget.

He the strategy would include  the resuscitation of specialised centres in federal tertiary hospitals where a minimum of one centre would  be identified and designated centre of excellence in each of the nation’s geopolitical zones.

These, according to him,,would enable Nigerians undergo treatment, thus reducing quest for treatment in foreign countries.

Oloriegbe spoke in Ilorin on the sidelines of a town hall meeting he held with the people of Kwara central senatorial district where he gave account of his stewardship in almost seven months in the upper chamber of the national assembly.

He said some Nigerians travel abroad for treatment due to lack of information on availability of manpower and equipment needed in local hospitals.

The legislator informed that cancer fund had been created with the 2020 budget, pointing out that one of issues responsible for treatment abroad was the availability of certain specialised equipment.

He said the Senate had agreed with stakeholders to establish a database to link all hospitals with media broadcast to keep Nigerians abreast of what were available.

Oloriegbe said brain drain in the medical profession was also being tackled with the provision of fund for Residency Training Programme.

He said talks are ongoing with the federal ministry of health to make available incentives for medical practitioners in the country.

“Medical tourism is a major issue we considered in the 2020 budget. As the chairman health committee, we discussed extensively on how we can reduce it to the barest minimum; we engaged stakeholders including the federal ministry of health and heads of federal tertiary hospitals.

“Of course, there are many reasons why people go abroad for treatment. There are those we cannot prevent, those who have the resources. They are not going because of lack of manpower or services here; they are going because they just believe they want the best hotels and Nigerians are those treating them.

“What we want to do is to identify minimum of at least one centre per geopolitical zones that will be designated centre of excellence to treat what makes Nigerians to go out. Part of the main issue is the availability of certain specialized equipment, and we have used 2020 budget to create cancer fund.

“We have also looked at the budget of various teaching hospitals and we identified some hospitals where we have allocated resources to make them to do better. National Hospital is one of such. If you looked at the 2020 budget, it didn’t come from the executive; it was our initiative, to put certain resources in the national hospital for certain area of cancer treatment.

“We looked at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital; it has a centre for bone marrow transplantation, which has been abandoned for many years. We put resources for this. There is an Accident and Emergency at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, which the previous government had done concession. We said they should recover it and we put resources for this to be able to address that.

“We identified that we do have some manpowers that are not even known. Some people go out of this country due to the ignorance of the availability of manpower and equipment to manage that. So, we agreed to establish a database that will be linked to all hospitals and then there will be also a media broadcast to enable Nigerians to be aware what are available. We are really working hard to do that.

“Secondly is the Nigerian doctors or health professionals going abroad. We are able to address this through provision of fund for Residency Training Programme, and we are also discussing with the Ministry of Health on how to create certain incentives that will enable Nigerian professionals to stay in Nigeria,” Oloriegbe said.

The legislator, who said the town meeting was to serve as feedback mechanism for his constituents and to also get their inputs on his representation.

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