The Federal Government, on Tuesday, said Nigerians spend between USD1.2 and USD1.6 billion (N664bn at 415/$) on medical tourism annually.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this during a guided tour of Duchess International Hospital in Lagos.
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He said the Federal Government was determined to stop the trend, which he described as a drain on the country’s foreign reserves.
Mohammed said there were several health interventions and provision of the enabling environment for private-sector driven enterprises like Dutchess to thrive.
He disclosed that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has invested a total of $22.5 million in two diagnostic centers in Kano and Umuahia ($5.5 million each) and the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre in Lagos ($11.5 million).
Mohammed described Duchess as “a purpose-built, state-of-the-art, 100-bed hospital, is aimed at delivering the highest standard of healthcare, using the most advanced technology and treatments to provide Nigerians with the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world.”
“Yes, the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank of Industry, provided financial support for Duchess International Hospital. This is not new.
“Recall that in the wake of Covid-19, the CBN set up the N100 billion Healthcare Sector Intervention Fund, now expanded to N200 billion, to provide credit support for the healthcare sector through long-term, low-cost financing,” he said.
He reiterated that the essence of these financial interventions and projects in the critical healthcare sector is to fast-track the evolvement of world class healthcare facilities like this Duchess International Hospital.
The Minister said, “With that, we can conserve our foreign reserves, earn foreign exchange for the country, create jobs, reverse brain drain, become a destination for medical tourists and also ensure affordable and standard healthcare for Nigerians.
“According to available records, Nigerians spend between USD1.2 and USD1.6 billion on medical tourism. That’s a huge drain on our foreign reserves.
“Also, in order to retain doctors, our healthcare facilities must be equipped to world standard level and doctors and other healthcare workers must be adequately remunerated. Of course, facilities like Duchess International are veritable tools for job creation, in additional to attracting medical tourists from across the world.”
Places visited within the facilities included Cardiology center, including physiotherapy room; Eye care; Learning and development center; ENT; Surgical and Gynecology Ward; Fully-automated lab; Intensive and Critical care unit; Endoscopy unit; Women and Children ward; Dialysis Centre, Dental Unit, Pharmacy, among others.