Senate considers bill to reduce medical tourism by Nigerians - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Senate considers bill to reduce medical tourism by Nigerians

The Senate has commenced the consideration of a bill that would reduce the number of Nigerians travelling to other countries for medical care.

Sponsored by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC, Adamawa Central) the bill is titled: Federal Medical Centres (Establishment) Bill, 2021.

Leading the debate on Thursday, Ahmed said the absence of a legal framework for the regulation, development and management of Federal Medical Centers (FMCs) was responsible for hindering the provision of intensive, effective and efficient health care services to Nigerians.

Ahmed cited “under-funding, weak facilities and infrastructure, the poor motivation of health workers, low budget, weak accountability, conflicts with the political structure of the states and industrial strikes”.

She noted that the passage of the bill will “reduce the number of Nigerians who have to go to other countries for medical care.”

Ahmed lamented that an average of 20,000 Nigerians travel to India each year for medical assistance due to the absence of a solid healthcare system at home.

According to Ahmed, the legislation would also sufficiently address remuneration of the employees of the Medical Centers which in turn would check the exodus of doctors and nurses to other countries.

“Seventy-seven percent of black doctors in the US are Nigerians and there is rarely any top medical institution in the US or Europe where you don’t find Nigerians managing at the top level.

“Hardly a year passes without a major national strike by nurses, doctors, or health consultants. The major reasons for these strikes are poor salaries and lack of government investment in the health sector,” she said.

Contributing, Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC – Kwara Central) said Federal Medical Centres were incapacitated as a result of the absence of legal backing establishing them and insufficient funding.

On his part, Senator Ibn Na’Allah said the bill was timely as it seeks “to ensure that all institutions of government are governed by law.”

Senator Na’Allah said the government cannot continue to operate a democracy where public funds are disbursed to institutions that are not recognized by law.

The bill after scaling Second Reading was referred to the Committee on Health, chaired by Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe for further legislative work and is expected to report back in four weeks.

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