by Lekan Olanrewaju
Just a little over a week ago, the Minister of Health professor Onyebuchi Chukwu on Thursday, while speaking at the 67th Meeting of the Association of Chief Executives of Federal Tertiary Hospitals in Nigeria, ACEFTH, warned doctors against sending patients out of Nigeria for ailments.
Many criticised the directive, asking if government officials would choose to be treated in the country as opposed to out. It would seem the Minister of Health shares the same sentiments, as he stated that a law would soon be passed to that effect. Speaking in Abuja at a meeting on the state of the nation’s health sector, he stated that a memo was being prepared for the Federal Executive council, which would stop public officers from spending public funds on foreign medical trips.
“I am preparing a memo which will soon be presented to the council to stop public officers from foreign medical treatment,” Prof. Chukwu said. “If a public officer says no, I don’t want treatment in Nigeria, I want to travel abroad for treatment, no problem, you are free but you will not use public funds for that so long as it can be done in Nigeria.”
He stated that the trend of seeking medical attention outside was unnecessary as hospitals within the country have the capacity to treat many of the ailments for which people travel abroad.
“People travel out of this country to treat kidney stones which we do not even need surgery to treat anymore at the National hospital Abuja,” he said.
He however said exceptions would be made for ailments which cannot be properly treated in the country, and that even then, the officials would be required to bear the costs from their own pockets.
“The only exception will be given,” he continued “when it has been certified that we do not have the capacity to address the problem here in the country and the official can prove that he/she will be using personal funds.”
Talk about leading by example.