Why Nigerians still travel abroad for medical treatment, by LUTH CMD



MORE reasons have emerged why some Nigerians still travel abroad to countries like India and South Africa for medical treatment despite the availability of cheaper and more effective services in-country.

The Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and consultant surgeon, Prof. Chris Bode, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian at the weekend blamed absence of robust public health care financing system in Nigeria and frequent strike actions by medical doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) and other health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).

Bode also dismissed reports that there is crisis in LUTH over alleged assault on a medical doctor by security operatives and call by the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) for his removal because of his refusal to their bidding of resorting to industrial actions to resolve issues.

Bode told The Guardian: “If we have a robust public health care financing system, Nigerians wont be appealing for funds to go to India and other overseas countries for medical treatment. Nobody wants to suffer the indignity of having to beg for money to go to hospital. So these are issues that the country needs to address since we have the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and that scheme will make a lot of money.’’

So does it mean that we do not have the equipment or specialists to help these people seeking money to help them get treated abroad or is it the issue of the frequent strike?

Bode said: “Going to India should not be the lot of any of us. Many of them who go are attracted to come there because of the glamour that ‘I am travelling abroad’ and also because the Indians seem to have captured the mindset of Nigerians and tell them, ‘look they cannot treat you in Nigeria’ and our people fall for it. Meanwhile they are looking at it not because they love you as a Nigerian but because they love your money. ’

The day the money you take there finishes, they put you on the next plane. Many die on their way back and the Nigeria people don’t get to know of this. Many are also badly treated, not professionally treated. They are given the wrong or suboptimal treatment because you cannot go back there to complain.

“Unfortunately some Nigerians assist those Indians referring patients to them, which to me bothers on criminality. Why should you be referring patients because of money they will get back, these are all things we will know. But with a better managed healthcare system with deepening public private partnership (PPP) in healthcare management, with people working for money that they get from the system, this will stop.”

The paediatric surgeon said LUTH could do all those things like kidney transplant and all the other reasons some Nigerians are running to India for.

He explained: “Of course yes. There are so many centres in Nigeria that can do it cheaper. For a kidney transplant you don’t need more than N5 million in Lagos today.”

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