We can’t trust Aisha Buhari benefitting from medical tourism while also against it

Aisha Buhari

For a while now, Nigeria has been entertained with the political and family drama emanating around the First Lady Aisha Buhari. Undoubtedly, she has created a media sensation around herself for almost anything and everything she does. When Aisha Buhari is silent, it makes the news, when she speaks, it makes the news and when she so much as travels abroad for medical attention, the media and the internet can not miss it.

On August 8th, the First Lady reportedly traveled to Dubai for medical attention over the pain she was experiencing in her neck. The neck pain was said to have peaked shortly after she returned to Abuja from a trip to Lagos in July where she had visited Florence, widow of former Oyo governor Abiola Ajimobi, who died of COVID-19 complications on June 25, 2020. The First Lady had also traveled out of the country for several weeks last year to treat an undisclosed ailment.

In an update, Aisha Buhari is back home to Nigeria and she, as expected, has something to say. While the reports of the purpose of her travel created an uproar on social media, Aisha may have just provided fodder to the very Nigerians who have berated her for traveling abroad for neck pain.

After returning to Nigeria Aisha Buhari shared experience abroad on Instagram, her experience abroad. She explained that they had encountered turbulence on the flight home but were able to scale through and make it out alive. She also thanked Nigerians for supporting her and praying for her. Nevertheless she went further to speak against medical tourism and called for better healthcare in Nigeria after she charged medical and health practitioners to take up the Federal Government initiatives to facilitate credits through the CBN. According to Buhari, “This will no doubt help in building and expanding the capacity of the Nigerian health sector and ultimately reduce medical trips and tourism outside the country.”

These medical tours by Nigerian leaders have always raised questions among Nigerians. In 2015, the president vigorously spoke against medical tourism sharing that there would be no allowance of Nigerian officials for foreign medical care – a rule that has been overridden countlessly by both the president, his wife, and many other government officials. For Aisha Buhari, the attention she’s currently receiving due to her return is the part where she vigorously wrote against traveling abroad for medical attention.

According to Aisha, medical practitioners should rely on loans provided by the government to better the healthcare system. Depending on how you look at it, her statement comes off as clueless on how to create and facilitate a better healthcare system. The Nigerian healthcare system is not dying because there are (generally) no loans to facilitate it, it is at a position it is now because the government, over the years have failed at the very roots which needed to be solid enough for a better healthcare system.

In the Nigerian healthcare system, there is a toxic combination of problems that range from the inaccessibility of quality health care even to the least remote parts of the country, corruption, insufficient health infrastructure, fake drugs, insufficient financial investment, and the lack of sufficient health personnel. Yes, money, it seems would solve all of that, but the government needs to first build a system that works before asking medical practitioners to take up loans to do the jobs which they have a huge hand in facilitating. The CBN initiative the First Lady is propagating only surfaced as an initiative to assist healthcare workers in this pandemic (COVID-19) which questions Aisha Buhari’s interest in the Nigerian healthcare system and Nigerians generally.

Aisha Buhari has also been tagged as one of the most selfish leaders in Nigeria and in this update, Nigerians have reiterated the idea that she only looks out for herself with no interest in the Nigerian people. On issues that concern social injustices, corruption, and all the social vices that thrive in Nigeria, Aisha Buhari had chosen to be silent. Her speaking against medical tourism hours after she just landed may be a realization for her. We can only hope that there is truth in what she has said even as we won’t be surprised at a headline saying she’s jetted out to treat a headache.


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