Members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have asked the National Assembly to enact laws that will ban government officials from seeking healthcare overseas.
NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, stated this on Thursday while speaking on PUNCH Live interview programme.
He said until the legislature makes a law restricting government officials from medical tourism, the much-desired improvement in the health sector in Nigeria will not be achieved.
Resident doctors all over the country had embarked on strike on Thursday morning despite the Federal Government’s last-minute efforts to stop the action.
Amongst other things, the doctors want their four-month salaries paid, as well as other allowances and demands met.
The doctors are on strike at a time when the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is in London for medical check-up.
When asked why the government has not been taking the challenges of Nigeria’s health sector seriously, the NARD president said, “It has not been taken seriously because they have the money to fly abroad. Let me be blunt, our number one person just flew abroad to do medical check-up, going in search of best global practices.
“If you check the amount of money that we put into medical tourism, and put such money down in our hospitals here, you don’t need to travel.
“In most of the hospitals we have now, you barely can have good medical care because the basic necessities are more like luxuries and they are not available in the hospitals. So, why won’t they travel out? That is the question we must ask the government.
“If an embargo is placed on them from seeking healthcare outside, it will help in making the hospital services work inside. Until when that is done, we are going to achieve nothing. That was why during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, most of them who did not travel were able to go back into the health sector.
“I wish there can be laws making government officials stay in Nigeria and seek healthcare here. Until that is done, we won’t have improvement.”