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Emefiele: Medical Tourism Puts Huge Strain on Foreign Reserves

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has stated that medical tourism places a significant strain on the country’s foreign reserves, and that all measures must be made to reduce these enormous costs.

On Friday, Emefiele made the announcement at the opening of the Duchess International Hospital in Lagos.

He also stated that the CBN has boosted its healthcare intervention from N100 billion to N200 billion in order to save foreign cash spent on medical tourism and to meet demand.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, also spoke at the event, urging increased private sector participation in the healthcare sector to combat medical tourism and medical human capital flight.

According to Emefiele, “Medical tourism put a huge strain on our foreign reserves and more importantly, for every $1 billion allocated to medical treatment abroad, there is less than $1 billion that could be available to other critical sectors of our economy.

“As part of this effort, the CBN led by a select private sector stakeholders supported COVID-19 through CACOVID and in a bid to further drive the recovery of our economy. Monetary policy recognised that while the interventions in our manufacturing sector is essential it is also essential, we continue to give support to the medical sector of our country.

“When intervention on COVID commenced, CBN set aside N100 billion to support the healthcare sector, but upon rise in demand, we have disbursed N107.7 billion, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital just to mention a few.

“We had taken up N100 to support but the monetary policy has said we should move it further up to N200 billion. We would continue to do whatever can be done to support healthcare”.

He therefore called on banks improve on loan facilities to the healthcare and also called on members of the organised private sector to invest in the sector.

On his part, Osibanjo said, “The standards and personnel at this hospital is comparable to anywhere in the world and reversing medical tourism by delivering high standards of care would go a long way by using the most advanced technology and treatment to give the fastest most convinent access to the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world.

“With investments like this seeking high quality medical personnel we can even reverse the trend of doctors leaving the country. the reasons for thier leaving are obvious, better renumeration, better facilities.

“Private sector investments in high quality healthcare services offering top compensation for its personnel could possibly create an attractive proprosition to reverse the trend. so the only way that we can ensure that people stay is obviously is to reward thier services and i think that this is a good way to start.he added.”

Meanwhile , the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr. Hebert Wigwe said, “I do hope such hospitals reverses medical tourism the country. For all private sectors participants take a cue from this, we need many more of this.”

Also, the Chairman Reddington Hospital Group, Dr. Adeyemi Onabowale, noted that one of the major problems with healthcare in Nigeria is Inadequate funding provided for both the public and the private sector this needs to be addressed.

He also added that the true cost of healthcare anywhere in the world is phenomenal with the depreciating currency. Healthcare funding should be bench against a stable currency.

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