Nurses, under the auspices of the University Graduates of Nursing Science Association (UGONSA), have expressed worry that Nigeria loses an estimated $2 billion (N1.1trillion) annually to medical tourism.
This is contained in a communiqué issued in Abakaliki on Thursday at the end of a two-day national conference of the association, held at the auditorium of the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AEFUTHA).
The communique made available to journalists was signed by Chief Solomon Egwuenu and Goodluck Nshi, the association’s National President and National Secretary respectively.
The association lamented the poor global ranking of the Nigerian health sector, which according to the association in the 1960s was ranked among the 10 best in the world.
The communique reads in part: “How do we come to terms with the Federal Ministry of Health’s estimation that Nigeria loses about $2 billion (N1.1 trillion naira) annually to medical tourism?
“It is heart wrecking, especially when it is obvious that this money, if put together over the next five years and deployed for the upgrade of our health facilities, health research capabilities, and healthcare infrastructure, can launch our health system to be among the best five in the world.”
UGONSA regretted that Nigerian health system once revered globally, was now being celebrated that its ranking has improved from 187 out of 191 countries two decades ago to 163 out of 191 countries today.
“Our hospitals will be fixed to be in the world-class ranking any day our political class starts getting treatment from our hospitals.
“It is high time medical tourism became a topic for the acceptance or rejection of politicians at the polls.
“The poor performance of our health system in global ranking has never been the fault of our healthcare professionals.
“It is a systematic fault of not putting the right facilities and motivation in place by the country’s successive leadership.
“To enable our healthcare professionals to replicate the type of wonders they have been performing when they travel abroad in our own health system.
“The monies wasted on medical tourism are enough to rejig our health system and make a competing payment to the healthcare professionals that will dissuade those currently practising in the country from contemplating going abroad.
“If our health system is not good for you, our political system should not be good for you.”
On the prevailing insecurity in the country, the association called on both the state and federal governments to intensify campaign against insecurity.(NAN)