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Ex-NMA President wants President-elect to tackle medical tourism

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By Becky John

A former president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Osahon Enabulele, has advised the President-elect, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to tackle medical tourism so as to reduce capital flight in the country. Osahon gave this advice when he was speaking on his expectations from the president-elect during an interview with the newsmen in Benin on Thursday. Osahon, who is the Vice President of Commonwealth Medical Association, said medical tourism was one of the most fundamental issues in the health sector where the president-elect must show leadership by example.

“The president-elect should show leadership in the area of medical tourism, where all political leaders, top public holders jump on the next available plane to go to Europe, America and other places for the simplest of medical conditions.

“I think one of the leadership by example in terms of moral leadership that the president-elect must show is by restricting these travels by political and public office holders who have undermined the integrity and image of our healthcare sector.

“So that all those capital flight can be reinvested in the country’s health sector and made a place for other nationals to seek medical care.

“So he must do that as a first point, to ensure that there is some accountability in terms of the leadership at all levels particularly at those at local, state and federal government levels.

“The president-elect should show leadership in terms of passion and medical care in local health facilities,” he said.

He said that the president-elect should also build on the existing structures put in place by President Goodluck Jonathan to address challenges in the health sector.

“The current government of Goodluck Jonathan in his own way of addressing some of the problems in the health sector has set up several committees.

“So perhaps, if he is unable to implement the conclusion of those committees, I want to call on the president-elect to see how he can take off from there and give some level of bite and expression to some of those resolutions”.

Besides, he urged the president-elect to upbeat the welfare of health professionals in the country to curb brain drain in the sector. 

“The issue of brain drain is still on even at a more alarming rate, so the president-elect must see how he can equalise the status of professionals in Nigeria to professionals outside the country.

“There is no reason why we cannot have some level of equipoise in terms of our status as health professionals and what exist outside the country because that is the only thing that stop largely, the whole issue of brain drain phenomenon that is common in the health sector,” he said.

He also called on Buhari to consider the implementing the National Health Act and increase budgetary allocation to the sector.

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