The Commonwealth Medical Association on Monday faulted the decision of President Muhammadu Bubari to proceed on foreign medical trip for a persistent ear infection, saying he has lost a golden opportunity to assert his change mantra.
The CMA in a statement issued by its Vice President and former President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, described the foreign medical trips by politicians and their aides which are financed with tax payers’ resources, as most times unnecessary.
He said, “Mr. President should act now to remove this tragic blot on our collective professional and national image by returning home to receive medical care in Nigeria. Doing otherwise will send a strong negative signal to majority of toiling Nigerians who either have no means to seek healthcare services or daily indulge in catastrophic health expenditures, talk less of dreaming of traveling abroad for medical treatment.”
According to him, the President’s foreign medical trip runs contrary to the earlier declaration by the Federal Government to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of outward medical tourism, which as at the end of the year 2013 had led to a humongous capital flight of about US $1billion dollars, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders (and their accompanying aides).
“If the former Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency, Capt. Idris Wada, could patronize Nigerian trained medical experts and medical facilities here in Nigeria when he unfortunately suffered a fractured femur following a fatal road traffic accident in 2013, I see no reason why in 2016 Mr. President could not have stayed back in Nigeria to attend to his ear infection”, he stated.
The association said Buhari had refused to make a clear public pronouncement on his resolve to show leadership by example with respect to the utilization of the medical expertise and facilities that abound in Nigeria by him and other members of the Federal Executive Council, particularly in concrete expression of section 46 of the National Health Act which seeks to address the abuse of tax payers’ resources through frivolous foreign medical travels embarked upon by political and public office holders.
Enabulele said, “Undoubtedly, this latest move by Mr. President at a time the Federal Government is said to be on a change mission and rebirth of national consciousness and commitment through a backward integration agenda, Mr. President has lost a golden opportunity to assert his change mantra through a clear demonstration of leadership by example, by staying back to receive medical treatment in Nigeria and thereby inspiring confidence in Nigeria’s health sector which currently boasts of medical experts that favourably compare with medical experts anywhere in the world, if not even better.”
The CMA regretted that most public and political office holders who seek foreign medical care abroad were usually handled by Nigerian trained doctors in foreign lands, particularly in the United Kingdom which has over 3000 Nigerian trained medical doctors, United States of America with over 5000 Nigerian trained medical doctors, amongst other foreign countries.
The organisation said most of these Doctors left the shores of Nigeria on account of government’s perennial failure to address the various push and pull factors which have consistently driven this yearly brain drain phenomenon in Nigeria.
Enabulele said, “Available records show that last year (2015) alone, 637 medical doctors emigrated due largely to poor working conditions and health facilities, insecurity, unpredictable and poor funding of Residency Training Programme, uncompetitive wages and job dissatisfaction.
“Without prejudice to the expert recommendation of Mr. President’s Personal Physician and the ENT specialist said to have examined and treated Mr. President in Abuja, I consider it a national shame of immense proportions that Mr. President had to be recommended for foreign medical care/re-evaluation despite the presence of over 250 ENT specialists (and professors) in Nigeria, as well as a National Ear Centre located in Kaduna state
“If I were in their shoes I would have advised Mr. President to stay back in Nigeria and explore any of the following options: (1) urgently invite a consortium of Nigerian trained ENT specialists in Nigeria to Abuja to re-evaluate and treat Mr. President; or (2) if it is determined that the medical expertise is not available in Nigeria, any identified Nigerian trained ENT specialist practicing anywhere in the world should be invited to Abuja, Nigeria, for the sole purpose of re-evaluating and treating Mr. President; or (3) if it is a case where the health facilities/equipment are unavailable (and this is a possibility) then Mr. President should have used his current medical situation to commence the government’s plan to re-equip Nigerian hospitals with modern state-of-the art health facilities.
“On account of the foregoing, I humbly and passionately appeal to Mr. President to show committed leadership by urgently rethinking the planned foreign medical travel and exploring the above suggested options of getting treated here in Nigeria.” - Punch