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Special Features: Gov Kashim Shettima makes Borno number one medical destination in Nigeria, By Femi Ige

Special Features: Gov Kashim Shettima makes Borno number one medical destination in Nigeria, By Femi Ige



*Gov Shettima (4th right) during a foreign trip to seal agreement on procurement of medical equipment for the state*

SIMPLY put, medical tourism refers to a trip or trips across international boundaries in search of medical treatment, usually for better quality care. This presupposes that people living in poorer parts of the globe go to other parts of the world with better and more advanced healthcare delivery sytems.

Former National President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele said no fewer than 5,000 Nigerians for example travel annually for medical tourism to India.

Similarly, in 2014, the Federal Ministry of Health, through its Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Dr. Ngozi Azodoh, disclosed that public officers alone spent N198.95 billion ($1billion) on medical tourism. Recently too, Dr. Roger Oladele of Genesis Medical Centre in Lagos put the figure lost by Nigeria through medical tourism to India, United Kingdom and Dubai in 2014 at N320 billion ( $1.9 billion).

With the increasing population of Nigerians leaving the country to seek medical treatment abroad and the huge impact on the nation’s economy,the Borno state governor,Kashim Shettima believes it has become a matter of urgency to revamp the health sector to stop the ugly trend.

The major drivers of modern medical tourism are most advanced technology, better quality care, quicker access to medical services, lower cost for services, among others, and these factors constitute a veritable source of national income for countries enjoying the benefits of medical tourism.

‘’Unfortunately, rather than boosting the economy, the concept of medical tourism in Nigeria is, to say the least, a harbinger of penury, pains and avoidable loss of hard-earned income in search of medical services outside the shores of the country’’ says the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

The umbrella body of the medical doctors during its National Executive committee (NEC) in Sokoto in 2013, put the annual pecuniary loss suffered by Nigeria as a result of medical tourism at $800 million ( N125billion), while the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) settled for N250 billion as the annual loss from medical tourism, within the same period.

From the foregoing, it is obvious Nigeria has lost significant sums of money to medical tourism. Indications are that such scenario will continue unabated as long as long as the government does not put the necessary measures to address the matter.

Perhaps borrowing a leaf from this,the Borno Governor,Thestate online learnt has spent over N18 billion on construction and rehabilitation of health facilities in the state.

United Nation Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) shows that 6.9 million people needed healthcare interventions in the North-East due to humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.

According to the UN agency, a greater percentage of those in need are in Borno, who cannot access quality healthcare services especially in rural communities.

In an attempt to mitigate the effects and transform the sector, the Borno Government embarked on massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of projects to enhance healthcare delivery at the grassroots.

The state government had spent over N8 billion on procurement of medical equipment and another N4 billion on rehabilitation of 248 health facilities ravaged by the terrorists who destroyed over 80 per cent of healthcare facilities, including 19 General Hospitals, which crippled healthcare delivery in the state.

Dr Saliu Garba, the state Commissioner for Health, however, said that in spite of the security challenges posed by the insurgency, the state government initiated viable projects designed to reinvigorate the sector and enhance quality healthcare delivery to the people.

’’In terms of infrastructures and equipment ,we are head and shoulder above any state in Nigeria. The highest capacity of the MRI machine in Nigeria is 0.65 but ours is 1.5.Every equipment in this diagnostic centre commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari is the latest available in the world’’ he revealed.

Granted that some hospitals in the country may not boast of the best medical equipment, coupled with the poor work attitude of some medical personnel, we are, however, not oblivious of the fact that there are still a plethora of excellent medical centres in Nigeria parading state -of -the- art facilities, medical eggheads and specialists in diverse aspects of the field, who are not only committed, able and willing to deliver, but have performed visible feats in the various branches of medicine and healthcare delivery.’’Our aim is to be the number one medical tourist destination in the country and that informed the heavy investment, recruitment and training program embarked by our government’’ Garba added.

The commissioner said medical projects were executed in all the liberated communities in the 27 local government areas in the past two years, adding that rehabilitation and upgrading works on 19 general hospitals were successfully completed in order to make quality health care delivery accessible and affordable.

‘’We’re not unaware that tens of thousands of Nigerians travel every year to the United States of America, (USA), United Kingdom, (UK), India, Thailand, Turkey, France, Canada, Germany Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and China, among other countries for treatments ranging from kidney transplant, open heart or cardiac surgeries, neurosurgeries, cosmetic surgeries, orthopedic surgeries, eye surgery and other health conditions, to the extent of delivering babies over there. All these may not be necessary anymore because we have everything here in Maiduguri’ Governor Shettima told this reporter .

He listed the new stete of the art hospital projects to include the general hospitals in Guzamala, Rann, Chibok, Uba, Biu, Askira, Kwayar-Kusar, Mafa, and Dikwa general hospitals.Others are: Mobbar; Shani, Marama, Munguno, Damboa, Ngala, Benisheikh, Konduga, Ngarannam, Kaga, Gwoza and Kukawa general hospitals, adding that plans had reached advanced stage for the establishment of eight new general hospitals in addition to the existing 24.

Shettima revealed that the Borno health sector is brimming in response to the subjugation of insurgency. A new hospital for women and children, located on Dikwa Road, Maiduguri and named after former First Lady, Mariam Abacha, is one of such. The ultra-modern hospital has 250 beds and is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. This has helped the state in maternal and child-health, general surgery and other fields.

The State Specialist Hospital is another major hospital within Maiduguri. The centre has Borno State and the nation in the forefront of healthcare by reversing the narrative of medical tourism in India, Turkey and Europe.It is a post graduate training institution with an accreditation for the training of consultants in obstetrics and gynecology.

The Chief Medical Director of BSHMB, Dr. Salisu Aliyu Kwayabura, said there are now 44 ultra sound scans for the 38 general hospitals in the state. Kwayabura said the intervention has improved maternal and children health delivery.

Some of the latest ultra-scan machines it acquired include the E10, E990 C, FODI, CT Scan, MRI, digital radiography and Echo Scan. The CMD said until the procurement of the equipment, Borno had one of the worst indices of maternal mortality of 1,000 deaths per 1,500 lives in the country.

He said up to September last year, the average maternal mortality in the hospital was in excess of 15 women dying every month, as a result of labour complications.

“Now since we acquired these equipment and invigorated training, what we have from November–December and January was an average of 1.5 deaths per month. We lost only a woman in December with 567 deliveries, 67 Caesarian sections. We lost two women in October. We lost two women in November as a result of complications of delivery out of 796 deliveries with 76 Caesarian sections. And in January, we lost two women out of 886 deliveries and 65 Caesarian sections. So you can see what we have been able to impact and that is in relation to our status as a post graduate training institution,’’ Kwayabura said.

He stressed that the Kashim Shettima government increased the number of doctors from 62 to about 129. In addition, it equipped about 750 nurses and midwives over the past five years and injected back into the system.

Kwayabura added that the Borno State Government sent 100 girls to study medicine in Sudan, which is known for its high quality training in the field. Also many of the diseases and medical problems in the state revolve around women and children

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