By Asmau Ahmad with agency report
As the strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) enters its second day, facts have emerged that Nigerians spent about $3bn on foreign healthcare-related services from 2020 to 2022.
The total spending for the period under review was obtained from the Balance of Payments database of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), The Punch reported.
This came to the fore on Tuesday as the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors insisted on starting a warning strike on Wednesday.
The doctors embarked on the strike despite the fact that the Federal Government said it had begun talks with their parent body, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
As doctors cited poor health infrastructure as one of the reasons for the strike, The PUNCH observed that Nigerians spent a total of $7.07bn on overseas treatments between 2016 and 2022.
The least bill gulped by medical tourism was in 2016 (about $17m) while the highest amount was spent in 2019 ($2.56bn).
About $783.77m was spent in 2017, while about $1.67bn was spent in 2018.
The data further showed that over $1bn, $615.03m, and $434.43m were spent in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively.
Despite a steady decline since 2019, which was the peak of Nigeria’s foreign health spending, the amount spent rose by 2,455.47 per cent between 2016 and 2023.
This occurred amid crises in the health sector and the President Muhammadu Buhari, and many other politicians’ penchant for foreign medical trips.
Although it is unclear how much has been spent on the President’s check-ups, the Buhari administration has earmarked at least N33.3bn for the State House medical infrastructure in the past eight years.
This includes recurrent items such as the “purchase of health/medical equipment, drugs and medical supplies” and capital components such as the construction of the presidential wing of the State House Medical Centre scheduled for completion this month.