Until Nigeria strengthens its health system and returns confidence to Nigerians on services being provided in its hospitals, the country may not be able to reverse medical tourism.
Past Chairman, Board of Management, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Ogun State, Professor Emmanuel Otolorin, made this assertion at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the 25th anniversary and founder’s day lecture with the theme “Sustaining Effective Healthcare: The Role of the Health System.”
Professor Otolorin, who noted that Nigeria was not paying enough attention to its health system, declared that medical tourism was a consequence of the loss of confidence of many people in Nigeria’s health system.
The expert, the pioneer Medical Director of FMC, Abeokuta, rated Nigeria poorly in all the building blocks for a well functioning health system, including leadership and governance; healthcare financing; health workforce, medications and technology; information and research; and service delivery.
He added: “when all are functioning well and there is access as well as appropriate attention being paid to quality and the safety of the patients, then the outcomes are good. Then we will have improved health outcomes, responsiveness, and financial effectiveness.
“Nigeria’s health sector is grossly underfunded and it needs more attention. A good health financing system should be such that people can use the services and are protected from financial catastrophe.
“We have always had multiple disruptions of services and the poor patients have to look for alternative institutions to go for services. That is something we need to find a solution to in the health sector.
“If we continue to spend time quarrelling and seeking for dominance, our patients will be the ones to suffer. Too often we forget that the reason for our existence is the patients and patients often are the victims of inter-professional rivalry.
“In many institutions abroad, we have emergency preparedness drills just to test the system and to see how people will respond when an emergency arises. We should institutionalise this.
“A patient that arrives alive should leave alive. And that boils down to teamwork, nobody has the answer to everything, we need to work together.”
Professor Otolorin also stressed the need to stem quacks in medical practice and wastages as well as improve on security for health personnel to ensure an efficient healthcare system.
Earlier, past governor of Ogun State and Chairman at the occasion, Chief Olusegun Osoba had expressed joy on the hospital’s achievements in its 25 years of existence.
According to him: “when I was handing it over in 1993, there was serious opposition against this. They felt I was throwing away their valuable property. But, stories from the centre are sources of great joy and happiness.”
FMC’s Medical Director, Professor Adewale Musa-Olomu, in his welcome address, had said the celebration was also to chart a new course for the institution.
He declared the resolve of the hospital’s management to conscientiously and aggressively pursue rapid development agenda for the hospital, including turning the centre into a teaching hospital.