Medical tourism is the process of traveling outside one’s country for the purpose of receiving medical treatment and it is a popular practice among Nigerians especially those who are financially well off.
It has been estimated that Nigeria loses about 500 billion naira to medical tourism yearly.
However, at the recent Fourth Annual Meeting of the Nigerian-American Medical Foundation (NAMFI) International that took place in Lagos on Tuesday, it was inferred that Nigeria could retain the 500 billion naira it loses yearly to medical tourism with aggressive development of infrastructure and human resource optimisation.
NAMFI is a non-profit organisation that is comprised of international physicians mostly from America. It is incorporated in Nigeria and the United States of America.
The participants of the NAMFI annual meeting included notable Nigerians, and some of them are: the Head, Public Private Partnership (PPP) and Diaspora Unit, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Dr. Omobolanle Olowu, who represented the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; top cardiologist and Trustee of NAMFI, Dr. Adeyemi Johnson; former Governor of Cross River State and Chair NAMFI, Donald Duke; publisher of The Guardian Newspapers and Trustee of NAMFI, Dame Maiden Ibru; Paediatric Immunologist and Vice Chair, Dr. Adeyinka Shoroye; Consultant NeuroPsychiatrist and Chief of Medical Staff, The NAMFI Clinic Foundation, Lagos, Dr. Oparaugo Udebiuwa.
According to the participants, there are sufficient people in Nigeria to reverse the current brain drain and make the country a medical tourism hub.
They said that with proper financial support and willingness of Nigerian professionals in the diaspora to return home and contribute their quota, the hospital sector can yield even four times the revenue generated by the hotel industry for the same amount of investment, thereby helping to diversify the economy and also making the country a center for medical tourism in Africa.
At the meeting which was themed “Overseas Medical Consultations; Super-Specialty Tertiary Care in Nigeria: Sustainable Solution.”, the Vice Chair of NAMFI, Dr. Adeyinka Shoroye disclosed that land has been acquired by the foundation in Abuja where it plans to build a specialist hospital by 2018 and set up insurance fund for indigent patients to make healthcare more affordable.
Also, the Minister of Health said: “Medical tourism is a big business and Nigeria will do everything possible to explore the opportunities it presents to generate revenue, provide healthcare and create job opportunities.”