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Nigeria’s New Health Minister pledges to tackle Medical Tourism

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By Ndidi Chukwu

The newly inaugurated Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole Folorunsho has pledged to priorities efforts that will end medical tourism in Nigeria. Adewole expressed shock over his appointment to head the ministry health but called his appointment a clarion call to serve the nation. He stated this in Abuja Wednesday at a grand reception in his honour at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja adding that as a team, they have set high goals for themselves.

He said “I believe by the end of our first year, we should be able to reduce medical tourism such that in five years’ time, less than 20 per cent of Nigerians will go abroad for treatment. We will make our teaching hospitals work, and do public-private partnerships so that we can have the healthcare we deserve.”

“I’m extremely delighted to be here because for me it is home coming. Even when I must admit that I wasn’t expecting to be posted to health. But being posted to health has a significance, it is like the President saying ‘go back to your terrain and sort things out.”

Adewole also solicited the cooperation of all healthcare workers saying they cannot do it alone, “because as the apex policy body for health, we need to work together and working together implies that we can make a huge difference.”

“I’m not unmindful of the large pull of discontent both intra and inter professionally but we need to work together.

“I believe that one person is more important than any of us and that is the Nigerian citizen either as a healthy or sick person. The Nigerian citizen is more important and when we place the citizen ahead of us, then every other differences will disappear,” he noted.

Adewole added that the challenge before him is to to bring back the healthcare system that his generation enjoyed when they were young so that the next generation can enjoy something better.

“We will need to look at how we can work with the secondary and primary healthcare systems because tertiary (healthcare) is not all that we need to promote and put healthcare at the door steps of our people.

“And that means we need to work with the state and local governments but the leadership rests in this ministry and we need to provide the direction. We must make our teaching hospitals better known for services than for lack of services,” he assured.

Also, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that he doesn’t feel like a stranger in the ministry as he is in the midst of his professional colleagues and believes it will be very easy for them to see eye-to-eye on many issues.

He said “We will like to bring changes that would be able to deliver service to the people from the grassroots to the very top. Health is very important for everybody and therefore this ministry has the responsibility to deliver substantially and to make a change.”

Ehanire said the change will not only be about bringing new ideas but also improving on the ones the ground and above all, improve on efficiency, and get more out of what they have.

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