Why Nigerians go Abroad for Medical Tourism – CMD Ashmed Specialist
By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for Nigerians to stop treatment abroad, the Chief Medical Director, Ashmed Specialist Hospital, Kaduna, Dr. Patrick Echopu, has said that is not possible at the moment because the country has not invested in the kind of facilities that can keep people at home for medical services.
He said the main reason people go abroad for health services is because they don’t have confidence in the healthcare system in country and therefore to keep them at home, there is need for government to equip medical facilities in the country.
The CMD, of the award winning specialist hospital, who emphasized the need to discourage medical tourism on Wednesday when a team of journalists visited the facility, said you can not stop people from going abroad if you can not provide what they want, but however, regretted that most of the places Nigerians go abroad for health services, Nigeria started before them.
In December 2019, some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), working around healthcare delivery, gave a merit award to the Specialist Hospital as the best in terms of service delivery.
The vision of the hospital according to Dr. Echopu, is to have the best medical facility with world standard and quality service delivery system and more affordable with expertise to the kind of services people seek abroad in the heart of Kaduna and Nigeria at large.
Speaking further, He said the kind of standard his organization is setting in Nigeria is such that will make people to see reasons not to go abroad for health services, adding that “only one hospital will not make them stop going to seek seek health services from outside the country.
“By the time we set a standard, probably others would say the standard they have set here to make people decide not to go to India, let us also have it. Before you know it, we are getting two or more teaching hospitals, private specialist hospitals that are preventing people from medical tourism.
“Most government hospitals are not performing to expectations, they perform far below expectations, and that is why the private hospitals are coming up. Sometimes there are things that are supposed to be done in teaching hospitals, but the government doesn’t support them in bringing in the machines or bringing expertise to train people in carrying out such operations.
“Various teaching hospitals in Nigeria can not even do kidney transplant, but there is a private hospital in Abuja that does it on weekly basis, so the government should also help us, because if our hospital becomes so full, Ashmed will not be able to handle the number of demand.
“So we should have several centres that are of the highest standard so that we can checkmate the excesses of traveling abroad for health services, you can imagine people traveling to treat headache abroad just because they don’t believe in the healthcare system that we have.”
According to him, Ashmed Specialist Hospital, is the only hospital in Kaduna with a fully functional Intensive Care Unit, and other units befitting a specialist hospital, saying “we have a rage of departments probably other specialist hospitals do not have; we have Pediatric unit, General Surgical unit, Laparoscopy unit, Gynecology and Obstetric unit, Dental unit, ENT unit, Physiotherapy unit, and one of the things that may stand us out, is the Accident and Emergency unit, we have a fully functional Intensive Care unit, I think is about the only hospital in Kaduna that have a fully functional ICU.
“We are constructing a new building and we are in the process of bringing in a comprehensive Computer Tomography (CT) Scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ophthalmology and a world Theatre; where any form of surgeries can be done.”