FG Laments FOREX Depletion Due To Medical Tourism
*As Reddington Launches Cardiology Centre In Lagos
By Chioma Umeha
Worried by the tide of huge medical capital flight, a major contributor to foreign exchange depletion in the country, Reddington Healthcare Group has inaugurated the Grays Cardiology Centre in Lagos.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the centre, the first comprehensive cardiology clinic in Lagos Mainland, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of State for Health, said that Nigeria loses over $1 billion, an equivalent of N400 billion, annually to medical tourism.
Ehanire who lamented the continued lack of faith in the national health system and the attendant financial implication of seeking healthcare services in other lands, said that “medical tourism is one of the major contributors to foreign exchange depletion, to the tune of $1 billion annually”.
He also identified limited access, inequitable distribution of facilities, limitation of both material, financial and human resources for health, poor attitude to work, strikes and inter-professional discord and limited affordability for the average citizen as challenges plaguing the health sector.
The Minister however assured that the Federal Ministry of Health was working assiduously to regain confidence in the health sector.
“The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) is furthering the revitalisation of nearly 10,000 primary health care centres (PHCs) in Nigeria, at least one in every political ward. We are working with states and our development partners, to rebuild the National Health System from the foundation, including plans for a referral system to relay patients through secondary to tertiary facilities,” the Minister added.
While praising the initiative of a high-tech cardiac centre, he said that the Buhari-led administration was committed to rebuilding the health system through private sector engagement.
Ehanire said: “Government desires to encourage more private sector participants in health care delivery. The injection of private capital, management skills, innovation and discipline should lead to the modernisation of health care delivery in Nigeria and overall improvement of the health system.
“The FMoH, through the department of public-private partnership (PPP) and diaspora, is keen to collaborate and partner with private health care providers and Nigerian health care experts in the diaspora in what Mr President calls “knowledge and skills repatriation.”
According to him, the Grays Cardiology Centre sets the bar higher as it goes beyond the routine, to bring state-of-the-art diagnostic and intervention capacity to Nigeria.
“We are proud that services that would have been found only in the top hospitals of technologically advanced countries, can be rendered right here, in the country, without need for passport, visa, airfare or other hurdles and expenses.
He said the phenomenon which many Nigerians have resorted to has left the poor in Nigeria to their fate or faith in God, and so-called native medicine.
In his welcome address, the Medical Director of the Centre, Dr. Soe Moe Aung, gave his assurance that the latest medical technology in cardiology will be used to provide the expertise to ensure that all patients receive world-class medical care.
Aung explained that the Grays Cardiology Centre, is a full-fledged Cardiology Centre with a vision of improving patients’ chances of healthy survival, bettering the quality of their care, and giving more people the tools and education they need to prevent cardiovascular disease in an ethical and affordable manner.
Recalling that the first digital Cardiac Catheterisation and Angiography Suite in Nigeria was launched by Reddington Hospital in 2009, he said Grays Cardiology Centre was launched in collaboration with a team of indigenous cardiology experts, Professors of cardiology, and a USA-based cardiology group.
The Grays Cardiology Centre will offer services covering non-invasive and interventional procedures, heart diagnostic procedures, cardiac rehabilitation, intensive coronary care, telementry services, and heart care education, among others.
Dr. Okechukwu Usim, Clinical Director of Grays Cardiology Centre during a clinical presentation, noted that cardiovascular diseases have been responsible for many untimely deaths and disabilities worldwide, especially in developing countries.
However, the Clinical Director said; “I am glad to be a part of a dynamic team that has helped save so many lives from an early death and restore them back to a productive healthy life.”
The inauguration of Grays Cardiology Centre is coming barely one week after the Reddington Healthcare Group opened a Women Health Centre.
Other special guests at the commissioning of the Centre were, Dr. Akinyanju, the Chairman of the Sickle Cell Foundation, Dr. Eckhart Diestel a Consultant Cardiologist from Germany and Dr. Demola Abiose, an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa College, USA.