Prof. Adewole Folorunso, a ministerial nominee, has said that Nigeria lost between one and three billion naira annually to medical tourism.
He made the disclosure when he answered questions from senators in the Senate during ministerial screening in Abuja on Tuesday.
Folorunso, who berated medical tourism, however, called for adequate facility for Nigerian doctors to enhance their productivity and curb the rate at which Nigerians travelled for medical tourism.
Folorunso, who is the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, said that the money spent on medical tourism was not so commensurate with the services got, especially when such services were accompanied with hostilities from the host nation.
“It has been estimated that we lose between one and three billion naira every year to medical tourism.
“The most important destination is India, and I make bold today that we have competent Nigerians who can do these jobs.
“What we need is a well updated and upgraded healthcare system, well equipped with robust infrastructure.
“When that happens, it will reduce medical tourism because it is cheaper to do it at home; it is also health promoting to stay with your people.
“Rather than to go to India and be treated in an unfriendly environment, I will rather support that we develop the infrastructure at home,” he said.
The nominee added that Nigeria could decide to build one comprehensive, fully equipped health care centre in every geo-political zone for a start with a view to maintaining and expanding such facilities.
He said that it was a Nigerian that managed one of the largest health care centres in England, adding that the centre had been performing very well.
The nominee said that many Nigerian doctors had been achieving feats in medicine abroad.
Reacting to the proliferation of private hospitals, he called for the regulation of such class of hospitals to ensure that a lot of Nigerians patronising them get effective service for their money.
“About 60 per cent of Nigerians go to private hospitals.
“What we need to do is to regulate them and ensure that they function well and give our people the kind of health care they deserve.’’
He stressed the need to curb maternal mortality, which he said, remained constantly high in the last six years in the country.
On Ebola disease, he said that the way the disease was overcome in Nigeria showed that the country could achieve any medical or health feat with determination and good leadership.
The nominee advised all health caregivers to focus more on providing health care to Nigerians rather than seeking elective offices in the unions.
Folouso advocated many cancer centres in Nigeria to cope with the increasing rate of the disease and for the fact that the disease was fast becoming a leading cause of death in the country. (NAN)