AS far back as 2008, wealthy Nigerians spent as much $1 billion on medical tourism.
It has also been disclosed that the number of patients seeking specialist healthcare at the already established Medical Centres in Nigeria have surpassed the planned expectations.
Minister for Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, made this disclosure in Abuja at a meeting with the team of Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt and representatives of Saudi-German Hospital (SGH).
Zainab Ahmed lamented that “as at 2008 Nigerians spent $1billion on medical tourism”. She noted that wealthy Nigerians “are compelled to travel outside our shores for healthcare due to the dearth in professional healthcare facilities and management in Nigeria.”
This she said “means that we have the capacity to pay for quality healthcare anywhere.”
According to Zainab Ahmed, “why can we not bring these facilities to Nigeria by government introducing deliberate policies backed by funding, to attract similar healthcare service providers to Nigeria.”
The finance minister identified four main areas of healthcare that Nigerians seek professional services, to be “oncology, cardio-vascular, nephrology and orthopaedic medicine”.
She told the team that Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) on behalf of the Federal Government has started investing in these areas through collaboration with the teaching hospitals and federal medical centres across the country.
“So far, through the NSIA, we have established three specialist centres in Kano, Lagos and Umuahia.
Mr. Uche Orji, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NSIA, explained what the authority had been doing within the healthcare sector infrastructure in Nigeria.
Orji noted that they had “commenced the construction of an Advanced Medical Centre in Abuja and have plans for three more oncology centres and 23 diagnostic centres.
He added that “there are plans to establish large regional diagnostic centres by supporting third party investors in the healthcare delivery platform in Nigeria, and the NSIA is reaching out to co-investors in that regards”.