We can't stop medical tourism for now in Nigeria
Author : Nigerian Tribune- Muda Oyeniran
ALTHOUGH the Federal Government through the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, and some other well-meaning Nigerians have decried the rate at which Nigerians seek medical treatment abroad, while some measures are being taken to stem the tide, Dr Ufuoma Okotete, the Managing Director of Diamond Helix, a Lagos-based firm that helps Nigerians seeking overseas treatment to connect with good hospitals and doctors abroad, has said that with the current state of the nation's health sector, it is practically impossible to stop Nigerians from traveling abroad for medical treatment.
Okotete, who spoke to journalists recently during a training programme organised by the firm in conjunction with Apollo Hospital in India, declared that most of the hospitals in the country could not attend to complex health problems such as brain surgery, open heart surgery, complex eye problems, and micro dissection surgery.
She also said that “so, for the treatment of those cases, we have a partnership with Apollo Hospital, India amongst other partners in Dubai, Germany, United Kingdom and so on. This is in order to help our people going abroad for treatment on the choice of proper centre and doctors.
“What we lack in Nigeria is the infrastructure. If you bring these doctors to Nigeria to come and carry out these surgeries here, they will need technical assistance, a team of professionals such as assistant doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to do the job; well equipped Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to take care of the patient before the patient gets well; many of these things are found lacking in the Nigerian society for now.”
While speaking on the core areas of Diamond Helix, Ukotete said: “we are into healthcare management and training for doctors with some of them having diploma and Masters at the end of a technical quarter. We are into wellness programme for corporate bodies because the whole world is looking into wellness because if people don't fall sick, it's better for even the doctors because they will be able to concentrate on people that are having serious medical conditions. We do wellness programmes with corporate bodies to help those with lifestyle problems to change their lifestyle choices; making more healthy choices towards increasing effectiveness among their workforce.”
She added that there was the need for continuous medical education for doctors on the recent advances in medical practice, saying “we are collaborating with Apollo Hospital, India to train our doctors on the recent advances in Medicine. Doctors from Apollo Hospital, Sinai and our emergency experts from the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan are training doctors on chest pains, complications of the knee, knee replacement surgery; most people think that people that are old should not be able to walk properly but they don't know that medicine has gone beyond that.
“We don't lack expertise but the training is to educate them on the new types of knee replacement and the selection of patients for it. Basically all doctors should have hands-on emergency management. The first doctor that sees a patient in critical condition determines the patient's survival; for example patients with gunshot wound. Every doctor is supposed to have these basic knowledge but painfully some doctors are found lacking in these basic knowledge; how to instigate the A&B( the airway's maintenance and breathing) in emergency.”
She then urged the Nigerian government to provide the enabling environment for the private sector participation in the healthcare delivery system of the country through favourable policy, stressing that “it is only by doing this that our health sector can function effectively.”
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