The Commonwealth Medical Association and the Nigerian Medical Association have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to use the Aso Rock clinic henceforth.
Vice-President, Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, said it was embarrassing the way public office holders involve in medical tourism.
He said Nigeria had been losing humongous sums of money in foreign exchange on account of its leaders’ medical tourism to other countries.
He said, “The country needs to think of how to reverse this unfortunate trend. Nigeria is in a recession and this is not the time for us to drain our economy by political office holders, whose expenses are borne by the state. I hope and pray that we will have the right leadership that will act by example to sort this out because that is the first step.
“This would give greater confidence to other Nigerians to explore the available medical services in the country. Leaders at all levels need to look beyond their individualism to say, ‘If I want people to utilise health care services in my country, I have to show that I believe in those facilities by utilising them’.
“So, I will urge all political holders, including Mr. President, to try to live by example. The President should try as much as possible, irrespective of what may be the problem, to see how he can stay in the country and see how he can get his medical needs attended to at the State House Clinic, even if it means importing facilities that are not available here.
“In any case, if N3.16bn was budgeted for the State House Clinic in 2016 and 2017, I will expect that the money is supposed to improve the clinic to a global standard that will have most of all the needed facilities and equipment. There is no reason whatsoever to say you are looking somewhere else for medical care. It is increasingly embarrassing to see public office holders go outside the shores of Nigeria to look for care.”
Enabulele added, “The law as it currently exists in our country, states very clearly that except in exceptional cases that have been so determined by medical boards and with approval by the minister of health, no political office holder has any right to be sponsored with taxpayers’ resources for any foreign medical trip. So, even the laws are there.
“Nigerian doctors are capable and some of those Nigerian doctors abroad were trained in Nigeria. We have good experts and formidable medical expertise with good intellectual capital base in Nigeria. No country has it all but countries devise means of closing the gaps.”
President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Mike Ogirima said the President wouldn’t have needed to travel abroad, if the Presidential villa clinic was well equipped.
He said, “We are appealing to the President to replicate whatever experience he had in London here at home. He should equip our hospitals. We can’t keep funding the Aso Villa Clinic if it’s not being used. That clinic should be equipped so as to cater for the President’s medical need.
“The Federal Government has not been fulfilling an agreement it signed with other members of the Economic Community of West African States to set aside 15 per cent of the budget for the health care sector. If this happens, we would be able to equip our hospitals so that the President wouldn’t need to travel for medical treatment abroad again.”