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‘Nigerians spent N320bn in foreign hospitals in 2014’, Says Medical Expert

The Chief Medical Director, Genesis Specialist Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Roger Olade, has raised the alarm over hug sums spent by Nigerians seeking medical treatment overseas.

Olade, who spoke at the inauguration of the hospital in Lagos, noted that Nigerians paid over N320bn for surgeries and treatments in Dubai, India and the United Kingdom in 2014.

The Harvard-trained care specialist said Nigerians headed for overseas due to the poor state of health facilities and shortage of specialists in the country.

Olade said many of his colleagues abroad who were willing to practices in Nigeria often changed their minds when they saw the poor state of facilities in the nation’s hospitals.

“It has been estimated that Nigerians spent $1.9bn on medical tourism in 2014. This money could have transformed the health sector of Nigeria, if the treatments were done locally.

“But patients seek treatment abroad because they want to ensure that they are getting the best for their money. For instance, nobody should pronounce a person dead until certain screenings and tests are performed.

“When patients are rushed to hospitals as an emergency, the first thing to do is use defibrillators on them to check whether they are unconscious or dead.

“But it is ridiculous to see patients being examined in vehicles in Nigeria and when the patients are just unconscious, they are said to be dead. Many of them do not have defibrillators.

“That is just an instance. There are so many others things that have been taken for granted here that could become libellous in a developed country,”

He argued that the government had yet to enact policies that would support its best hands in medicine to return to practise in Nigeria.

According to him, instead of wooing doctors in the Diaspora, the Federal Government, through its unfriendly policies, is frustrating those who want to practice in the country.

“India realised that its best doctors were abroad in the 80s and its government consciously put in place juicy policies and offers to woo them back.

“But what has the Nigerian Government done to encourage its best hands to come back? It frustrates us for months when we want to clear medical equipment at the ports. Of course, the authorities know that we do not plan to sell these facilities but to use them to save lives,” Olade noted.

The Co-founder of the hospital, Dr. Muyiwa Onabanjo, said the new outfit would focus on emergency and critical care.

Onabanjo, a consultant Neurologist, lamented that many Nigerians died because they lacked access to specialists.

He said, “A boy once fell from a storey building in Ikeja, and when he was rushed to many public hospitals in Lagos, they rejected him. They did so because they did not have the capacity to handle the case. But, we revived him here.”

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