Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, yesterday, lashed out at members of House of Representatives for throwing out the bill seeking to regulate international medical trip by public officials, saying: “Nigerian leaders are disjointed with reality in the health sector.”
Reacting to the action of the lawmakers in a chat with Vanguard, National President of NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile, said rejecting the bill on the ground of fundamental human right showed that Nigerian leaders had not seen the need to equip the Nigeria hospitals.
He said: “It is sad and highly disturbing to see lawmakers throwing out such a bill. Although it’s personal for anybody to obtain medical treatment wherever he or she feels and also natural that nobody should force anyone to obtain his or her medical treatment anywhere but it’s very unfortunate that in Nigeria we have leaders who are so disjointed with the reality on ground and have done a lot to destroy our healthcare system to the extent that it’s no longer attractive.
“The idea behind the bill is that if you patronise the country’s healthcare, you will understand how good or bad it is. If it’s not satisfactory enough, you will think and act on what can make it better.
“It is on this basis that NMA and other civil organisations demanded that all public office holders should seek healthcare services in our public health institutions so that they can see what they are superintended upon.
“They need to understand that sometimes there may be an emergency and will be left with no other option than to access care first in the country, but if they don’t put it in a better position, they may end up regretting it one day.
Corroborating his views, formal NMA President, Dr Osahon Enabulele, said: “It is about curtailing the reckless abuse of taxpayers’ resources for sponsorship of frivolous foreign medical trips embarked upon by political and public office holders.
“Indeed, section 46 of the National Health Act recognises that any political and public office holder who wishes to seek foreign medical care could do so at his/her own expense without expending resources contributed by taxpayers, except for exceptional and serious cases assessed by a medical board and approved by the Minister of Health or the Commissioner of Health (in the case of states).
“It is on record that since 2013 when I first raised alarm on the humongous capital flight out of Nigeria caused by outward medical tourism, government-sponsored foreign medical trips embarked upon by political and public office holders (and the estacodes that go with them), constitute a major portion of the capital flight out of Nigeria caused by outward medical tourism.