Nigerians and majority of Africans keep spending Millions of dollars every year or medical tourism. It started with running from Germany, America to United Kingdom. These health trips started with government officials in various African countries. As citizens began to see the impact, people who can afford these expensive medical trips also joined the bandwagon. Going to Germany, Israel, United States and United Kingdom were quite off the pockets of many especially in Nigeria. Since early 90s, the capital flight on medical tourism till now has gone beyond the roof.
Other developing Countries in the Middle East and Asia like India saw this and strategically developed a first class medical technology which is helping them to take a sizeable amount of billions of United States dollars being spent annually by Africans. A trip or visit to India every year will convince anyone in doubt. Nigerians especially are everywhere receiving medical attention. One good advantage of going to India is that it is far cheaper when you compare with what you will get elsewhere.
Yet the quality is not inferior. One noticeable factor is that, Indian professionals are in the majority handling various cases. They are civil, courteous in the way they handle many of their patients. They neither talk anyhow nor insult them. They listen unlike what we have in Nigeria and many other African health environments. Their diagnoses are 96% accurate if not 100%. We must acknowledge a few of them are also prone to errors.
Patients are given updates on their progress. Patients’ rights are preserved. When you go through surgery, the doctors give you a medical summary of what they found and what they did and a suggestion of next action. All your medical examination results are given to you to hold. Compare to Nigeria, a patient can hardly get anything. The facilities in most of the Public health institutions are run down. Majority of the Staff talk to patients as if they do not matter. Getting accurate medical reports can be a daunting task. To get a medical summary, report from your Doctor here is like requesting for the heart of an Elephant.
Check a patients’ file, you will hardly find anything meaningful. In fact as soon a patient dies, patient’s file can become missing. We must acknowledge there are few exception to this. We must commend South Africa for taking a big step in making its health system works. Most of South Africans Government officials stay at home for health care because there has been a meaningful invested.
How can we check capital flight and make Nigeria, Africa Health sector becomes top range.
A commitment to increase in annual budget on Health sector: great health sector requires capital investment. Government and private individuals must make a determined commitment to invest in medical equipment and related materials. Where there are no reagents and other items for proper diagnosis of disease, the outcome (treatment) is doomed to fail. In fact in those places where health sector works, private individuals are major investors.
A commitment to strong health policy: A strong health policy which outlines essential issues must be initiated and followed to the letter. Punishment should be given to saboteurs. These saboteurs include government officials and their collaborators. In some cases government bought equipments which soon disappear into thin air.
A guarantee for patients’ right: A consistent violation of Patients’ right will not make people who want excellent treatment and can afford this to stay in their own homeland. Patients’ right must be valued and protected in Nigeria and Africa. We still have a long way to go here.
A commitment to proper monitoring and evaluation of health professional: Attitude issues are rampant. We understand there are lots of pressures on the Medical professional here, but that is not a good reason to look down and talk to patients anyhow. We keep asking Medical professionals here in Africa made a choice to pursue their dream professions. This in no way puts them ahead of other professionals who are their patients. They must always respect their medical oath.
Change in health System Governance: we still hear or various health management issues across the major Public health Institutions in Nigeria and Africa. Most Countries are still operating the 1960s health governance system. A time for proper overhauling of this if Africa is serious about meaningful changes