Medical tourism to India is a racket, says minister

3 years ago

Determined to improve the health fortunes of the country and as part of activities to mark his first year as the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has begun fresh consultations with the private sector and states even as he rolled out his revised blueprint.Adewole at different fora in Lagos including a breakfast meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Health Care Federation of Nigeria (HFN) tagged “Unlocking the Potentials of the Private Healthcare Sector” said that medical tourism to India is a racket and the country loses billions of naira yearly due to the fraud.

A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem. Also, the Minister at the operationalization meeting of Saving One Million Lives Programme- for Results (SOML PforR) South West Zone, tagged “Improving Health Outcomes in Numbers,” said the country has began disbursement of the World Bank’s $500m grant to Save One Million Lives of women and children.

The World Bank through the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has began disbursement of $500 billion grant to 36 States including the Federal Capital Territory Federal for the improvement of health outcomes of women and children in Nigeria.To address the problem of poor funding and lack of credit for health, the FMoH and HFN have proposed the establishment of Bank of Health; and to discourage medical tourism, they plan to begin advertisement of skills and facilities available in Nigeria.

The group, also, at the breakfast meeting set up technical working group and timelines to be achieved.President of HFN, Mrs. Clare Omatseye, said it is already a huge success the fact that government has clearly engaged the private sector, which is critical to unlocking the potential of the health sector. Omatseye said the private sector is ready to take on the new horizon and invest but it cannot do without the government.

Meanwhile, the Minister disclosed that the third National Health Policy is ready for Presidential assent and there are plans to fast track passage of revised National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act to make health insurance in the country compulsory.

Adewole decried a situation where there is great burden on teaching hospitals because even people with diarrhea that can be treated at the Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) still besiege the highest level of care. He said only 20 per cent of the 30,000 PHCs are functional and only five per cent of rural women delivery under supervised care.

To address the situation, Adewole said the federal government plans to revitalize seven teaching hospitals and 10,000 PHCs in 2017.The Minister also condemned a situation where the country import insecticide treated nets (ITNs) from Tanzania and vaccines even from other African countries despite the fact that we have the capacity to produce these essential items.

Adewole said to reverse the situation the country is already planning to reactivate the vaccine production plant in Yaba Lagos and reviving capacities to produce ITNs.The Minister admitted that the country does not have the capacity to handle emergencies and therefore not prepared for such.

On maternal and child health, Adewole said the country is the largest contributor to Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (MTCT) with 30 per cent; 40 per cent of children in northern Nigeria are malnourished; and 970,000 women and children die yearly from birth-related issues.

HIV is Human Immuno-deficiency Virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).Adewole, however, said some states have done well on maternal and child health with Ondo emerging best in South West even as he said there are plans to reward best state on maternal and child health with $1.5m based on performance indicators.

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