Nigeria set to become destination for medical tourism, reverse brain drain – Minister



By Chimezie Godfrey

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that with the establishment of world class healthcare facilities in Nigeria, the country is set to become a destination for medical
tourism, in addition to reversing the brain drain in the health sector.

The Minister, who spoke after a media tour of Duchess International Hospital in Lagos on Tuesday, said the world class healthcare facilities springing up in Nigeria will also curb medical tourism abroad, conserve foreign reserves and create jobs.

“Today, we are here at the Duchess International Hospital. During the
guided tour, I am sure you all saw that this is indeed a purpose-built, state-of-the-art, 100-bed hospital, which is aimed at
delivering the highest standard of healthcare, using the most advanced technology and treatments to provide Nigerians with the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said that according to available records, Nigerians
spend between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion on medical tourism annually, a development he described as a huge drain on the country’s foreign reserves.

He expressed delight that many of the doctors at Duchess International
Hospital, a subsidiary of Reddington Hospital, are Nigerians who had
trained and worked abroad, but who have now decided to return home because of the availability of healthcare facilities with standard equipment and a good work environment.

The Minister said the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of
Nigeria and the Bank of Industry, provided financial support for Duchess International Hospital, as part of its intervention in the health sector.

”This is not new. Recall that in the wake of Covid-19, the CBN set up
the N100 billion Healthcare Sector Intervention Fund, now expanded to
N200 billion, to provide credit support for the healthcare sector through long-term, low-cost financing,” he said, listing other
interventions by the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), as including a total of $22.5million which was spent in establishing two diagnostic centres in Kano and Umuahia ($5.5 million each) and the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre in Lagos ($11.5 million)

“The essence of these financial interventions and projects in the critical healthcare sector is to fast-track the evolvement of world
class healthcare facilities like the Duchess International Hospital.

With that, we can conserve our foreign reserves, earn foreign exchange
for the country, create jobs, reverse brain drain, become a destination for medical tourists and also ensure affordable and
standard healthcare for Nigerians,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed commended the management of the hospital
for making their world class services affordable and accessible to
ordinary Nigerians, particularly with the launching of the ‘World Class.

Affordable Healthcare Programme that coincided with the visit of the
Minister and the over 30 journalists who accompanied him on the tour.

“With what we have seen here today and the programme that has just been launched, Nigerians can now get access to affordable and world class treatment in whatever is ailing them in many areas, including emergency medicine, women’s health, paediatric care, cardiovascular
medicine, kidney dialysis, dental treatment, eye care, etc,” he said.

The Minister said the visit to the hospital was in continuation of the media tour of the development projects of the Buhari Administration,disclosing that in the past 40 days, he had taken the media on a tour
of the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Project as well as the Dangote Fertilizer Company in Lagos; the Lekki Deep Seaport and the Duchess Hospital, in addition to the tour of road, rail, bridge and other projects across the country.

”The essence of these tours is to showcase what this Administration has achieved in the various sectors. Even where the project is private-sector driven, the Federal Government has either provided the enabling environment or, in some cases, supported such projects with funding,” he said.

In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of the hospital, Dr.Tokunbo Shitta-Bey, who conducted the Minister round the hospital,
said the multi-specialist hospital, which is already attracting foreigners coming for treatment, is poised to make its advanced
elite service affordable and accessible to Nigerians, who would pay only N5,000 for registration and 5,000 for consultation.

He said the hospital, which was commissioned 22 Oct. 2021 by the Vice
President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, is committed to immediate and open access to emergency and critical care services, as well as a wide range of specialist-led services and treatment.

The Minister and his team were conducted round the various departments
of the hospital, including the Cardiology Centre, Eye care clinic, Learning and Development Centre, ENT Department, Surgical and Gynecology Ward, Fully-automated lab, Intensive and Critical care unit, Endoscopy unit, Women and Children Ward, Dialysis Centre, Dental
Unit, Pharmacy, Surgical Theatre (Modular and automated), Radiology Department and Emergency Room.