Despite weak infrastructure and poor funding, Nigeria has adequate human resources to reverse brain drain and make the country a medical tourism hub.
This was the verdict of participants at the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Nigerian-American Medical Foundation (NAMFI) International in Lagos yesterday.
NAMFI is a non-profit organization incorporated in Nigeria and the United States of America. It comprises international physicians mostly from America.
The participants said Nigeria could retain the $1 billion it loses yearly to medical tourism with aggressive development of infrastructure and human resource optimization.
According to them, the hospital sector is capable of yielding four times the revenue generated by the hotel industry for the same amount of investment. They added that with adequate health sector financing and the willingness of Nigerian professionals in the diaspora to return home and contribute their quota, the country can become the hub for medical tourism in Africa.
The participants included 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 and Pathologist from Makerere University Medical School, Uganda, Dr. Robert Lukande.
They said with falling oil prices and dwindling budgetary allocation, it is hoped that making Nigeria the hub of medical tourism would help to diversify the economy.
The theme of the meeting was “Overseas Medical Consultations; Super-Specialty Tertiary Care in Nigeria: Sustainable Solution.”
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.”
Shoroye disclosed that the foundation has acquired a land 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.