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Nigerian doctors blame medical tourism on political elite

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The National Association of Resident Doctors in Nigeria (NARD), have put the blame for medical tourism by Nigerians squarely on the nation’s political elite who stand as role models for the rest of the population.

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Dr. Olusegun Olaopa, president of NARD, made this known while interacting with the Director General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, Mr. Asishana B. Okauru, when he paid him a courtesy call at the NGF Secretariat in Abuja on Thursday.

According to a statement by Abdullrazaque Bello-Barkindo, spokesman for the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Olaopa, was accompanied to the NGF Secretariat by members of his executive council.

He urged members of Nigeria’s political elite to make bold to seek medical help at home in order to encourage the rest of the people to seek same.

“Our political elite must make a bold statement by seeking medical attention in the country because we are never short of the required expertise in Nigeria; what our hospitals lack are equipment and only by having our very important people in our hospitals would the standards of these hospitals rise to the same level as those abroad,” Dr Olaopa explained.

The NARD president further opined that the backwardness in the nation’s healthcare sector was caused 30% by lack of technical initiative and 70% lack of political will, which he added principally undermines healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

He cited the example of the occasion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s son who was treated after his motorcycle accident at Cedar Crest Hospital in Abuja before being taken abroad for observation, arguing that Cedar Crest is not accessible to common people but if patronized, other hospitals could as well provide services that are comparable to any in the world.

Olaopa also mentioned that medical neglect on the part of doctors will begin to be met with reprimands in not too distant future.

On his mission to the NGF, the NARD president said that he had observed since assuming office that healthcare delivery in Nigeria was too polarized to be left in the hands of doctors alone.

Olaopa decried a situation where the health sector was neglected by the various tiers of government in the country where health officials relied on the intervention of technocrats to get the ears of states’ chief executives and other highly placed officials.

“We are here to appreciate you”, he said to the NGF DG, Okauru, “because without your intervention, the health sector in Oyo State would have still been in crisis.”

The NARD president spoke of how difficult it was to approach the Oyo State governor to resolve an issue relating to the state of a major hospital in the state until the DG intervened and within two weeks, the governor addressed the matter holistically, to everyone’s satisfaction.

“How you did it we don’t know, till date, but the matter was resolved in record time and we hope that you will continue to intervene in other knotty situations just as well,” Olaopa told Mr. Okauru.

Responding, the Director General of the NGF thanked the NARD executives for recognizing his efforts whilst urging NARD to feel free to approach the NGFS anytime it feels like the doors were shut in their faces by any state executive.

“Our stand at the secretariat is that governors be ready to deliver on their mandate but their people have turned them into rock stars and with ‘star-power’ some of them become inaccessible or difficult for the ordinary people to deal with,” Okauru explained, but added “we at the secretariat serve them as diligently as possible and as professionally as we can to ensure that how we serve them resonates with the yearnings and aspirations of their people and their (governors’) own mindsets in their drive to solve both social and administrative issues in their various states.”

On the part of the governors, the DG stated that “Because we handle issues professionally and work as a team, they are also eager to revert to the secretariat knowing that we do not take advantage of our relationship with our principals.”


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