The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has noted that in a bid to save foreign exchange spent on medical tourism and with demand it requires in intervention, the CBN has increased its healthcare intervention from N100 billion to N200 billion.
Also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged more private sector participation in the healthcare sector to reverse medical tourism and also human capital flight of medical practitioners.
They disclosed these at the opening of the Duchess International Hospital in Lagos yesterday.
Emefiele said: “Medical tourism puts a huge strain on our foreign reserves and more importantly, for every $1 billion allocated to medical treatment abroad, there is less than $1 billion that could be available to other critical sectors of our economy.
“As part of this effort, the CBN led by a select private sector stakeholders supported COVID-19 through CACOVID and in a bid to further drive the recovery of our economy, monetary policy recognised that while the interventions in our manufacturing sector is essential it is also essential, we continue to give support to the medical sector of our country.
“When intervention on COVID commenced, CBN set aside N100 billion to support the healthcare sector, but upon rise in demand, we have disbursed N107.7 billion, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital just to mention a few.”
He added: “We had taken up N100 to support but the monetary policy has said we should move it further up to N200 billion. We would continue to do whatever can be done to support healthcare.”
He further called on banks to improve on loan facilities to healthcare and also members of our private sector community to invest also.
On his part, Osinbajo said: “The standards and personnel at this hospital is comparable to anywhere in the world and reversing medical tourism by delivering high standards of care would go a long way by using the most advanced technology and treatment to give the fastest most convenient access to the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world.
“With investments like this seeking high quality medical personnel we can even reverse the trend of doctors leaving the country. The reasons for their leaving are obvious, better remuneration, better facilities.”
“Private sector investments in high quality healthcare services offering top compensation for its personnel could possibly create an attractive proposition to reverse the trend. So the only way that we can ensure that people stay is obviously to reward their services and I think that this is a good way to start,” he added.
Also at the opening, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Hebert Wigwe said: “I do hope such hospitals reverse medical tourism in the country. For all private sector participants to take a cue from this, we need many more of this.”
Furthermore, the Chairman Reddington Hospital Group Dr. Adeyemi Onabowale, noted that one of the major problems with healthcare in Nigeria is inadequate funding provided for both the public and the private sector, saying this needed to be addressed.
He also added that the true cost of healthcare anywhere in the world is phenomenal with the depreciating currency, adding that healthcare funding should be benchmarked against a stable currency.