FG to end $1bn annual expenditure on medical tourism

Geoffrey Onyeama

Joel Oladele-Abuja

The Federal government is set to end the one billion dollars annual expenditure on medical tourism. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed this while signing a Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of government with the African Export and Import (AFRIEXIM) Bank for the establishment of the African Medical Centre of Excellence in Abuja.

The $300 million Medical Centre will cater mostly for unknown tropical diseases which the Minister said is on the increase because Africans have failed in research and development hence the project is a giant leap for Nigeria.

According to him, developed countries claimed to assist the less developed countries when in actual fact it is the other way round as the less developed countries have a greater number of experts especially Medical Doctors working abroad which in itself is technical assistance to those countries.  Speaking at the event, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, this is another testimony that Nigeria is concerned about the healthcare of its citizens.

He disclosed that already, the Federal Government had, in conjunction with the India government, begun an affordable Diagnostic Centre in Kano with state of the art laboratory equipment to cater for the needs of citizens.

“The Federal Government is partnering with many private sectors just to ensure that medical tourism is reduced to its minimum and also to make money from people who are coming from other parts of the world.

“So, honestly we can’t thank AFRIEXIM Bank enough for this historic occasion and the fact that this will be the first of its kind in Africa. I must say that this is not the only sector AFRIEXIM Bank has been helping to promote Nigeria, my sector , the creative industry, we have also engaged the bank in ensuring   that our digital switch over is a success.”

Earlier, the President of AFRIEXIM Bank, Professor Benedict Oramah, paid glowing tributes to President Muhammadu Buhari administration for accepting to be the host country for other African countries that would house the Medical Centre especially as no human development is possible without quality health care.

He said the Medical Centre which will be the first of its kind in the continent will promote international trade in Medical tourism in a full spectrum of services in various specialist areas and general healthcare services in addition to training, research and development.

“Once operational, the African Medical Centres of Excellence (AMCE), Abuja will: offer a full spectrum of medical services (diagnostics, inpatient and outpatient) in oncology, hematology, cardio-vascular and general healthcare services (including trauma and emergency services) as well as other essential services including training, residential, hospitality and retail.

“Provide research and development capabilities to ensure it remains at the leading edge in clinical services. A significant focus of the AMCE is to perform innovative and ground-breaking research, development and educational programs in partnership with leading global institutions in order to develop additional insights into diseases and treatment trends to improve the quality of care available in Nigeria and the West Africa region.”

Recall that President Buhari had performed the ground breaking ceremony of the project in December, 2021.