LAGOS, Nigeria (eTN) – The Director-General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Segun Runsewe, at the signing of partnership with the US-based Medical Tourism Association (MTA) in Berlin, Germany, described medical tourism as a drain on Nigeria’s economy.
Runsewe’s position was buttressed by the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, who confirmed to journalists in Sokoto, northwest of Nigeria, that the federal government will not sponsor any public officer to travel abroad for medical treatments. He further disclosed that in a bid to discourage medical tourism, more than 60 Nigerian doctors have been sponsored abroad to acquire skills that are not available in the country.
However, Nigeria’s health system remains in bad shape with years of neglect by successive administrations. Nigerians are familiar with government officials and the wealthy going abroad to seek medical attention.
For instance, as of February 2013, there were 3 state governors admitted to several hospitals in London, the USA, and Germany, although 2 are back in the country. Nigeria’s first lady, Dame Patience Goodluck, recently returned to the country from more than 2 months on medical sojourn in a German hospital.
However, Runsewe said partnering with the MTA would help to transform Nigeria to a medical tourism destination, rather than Nigerians going abroad to seek medical treatment.