The Federal Government on Thursday sought the partnership of the private sector to stop medical tourism.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, canvassed for the partnership at the foundation laying of the transplant complex and inauguration of a molecular laboratory by Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre, Abuja.
Ehanire said that the low involvement of the private sector in the healthcare subsector and the lack of confidence in the quality of the services rendered was one of the reasons most citizens seek medical care abroad.
According to him, it has been estimated that Nigeria loses between one and two billion dollars annually in foreign exchange to medical tourism.
He said “Federal Ministry of Health has the mandate to ensure quality healthcare delivery to all citizens and has always emphasised that this cannot be achieved without private sector partnership.
“Specialist care, which is often the most inaccessible, is categorised in the spectrum of tertiary care, but sits at the zenith of the healthcare delivery pyramid.
“Kidney care is a highly sought after discipline due to the high prevalence of diabetes and hypertension, which are notable precursors to kidney disease in Nigeria.”
The minister said that COVID-19, which brought about global lockdown, had forced many countries to come up with solutions to basic socio-economic and health problems and compelled many Nigerians to seek medical attention in the country.
He added that the COVID-19 pandemic had triggered a realisation of the strength of the health system across the world, having thoroughly shaken strong and resilient systems of Europe and America.
Ehanire said that the Federal Government would continue to urge the private sector to join hands to develop innovative strategies that would provide healthcare access to all citizens.
Former Minister of Defence, Retired Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, who was the chairman of the event congratulated the management of the medical facility for providing vital services needed by Nigerians.
Danjuma, who was represented by Prof. Jerry Gana, former Minister of Information, expressed happiness at the ultra-modern equipment at the medical centre.
He said “this is truly a centre of excellence”, and called on the centre to always ensure first class service delivery to Nigerians.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the medical centre, Dr Olatise Olalekan, said that the idea behind the project was to assist Nigerians who travelled abroad for medical treatment.
He said he was always worried whenever he heard that Nigerians suffering from some diseases could not be treated in the country.
He added that many Nigerians travelled abroad due to the unavailability of some medical facilities in the country to attend to their needs.