• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Marketing: UCH moves to reverse huge capital flight through medical tourism

Marketing_ UCH moves to reverse huge capital flight through medical tourism

Nigerians spend over $1.3 billion on overseas medical tourism annually, a whooping expenditure which could boost Nigeria’s health facilities. The huge outflow has enticed some foreign countries to promote their health facilities to Nigerians.

But determined, in the national interest, therefore, to partly reverse this capital flight that is assisting to further develop health facilities abroad, University College Hospital, Ibadan, UCH has invested in high technology equipment, personnel and infrastructure to attract more Nigerians seeking both ambience and medical treatment abroad. The 60-year-old hospital has invested in private suits, as obtainable abroad for high net worth patients as a stop-gap for those who are eager to have the same treatment overseas.

“It is like a 3-star hotel that has a mini-suite, normal suit and an executive suite with beds for patients and his/her relations. The private suites have accommodated top stakeholders in society for treatment. They know that when they come here, they would be attended to speedily as they would wish when they go abroad”, Temitope Alonge, chief medical director of UCH told BusinessDay during the celebration of the hospital’s 60th anniversary.

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Alonge who said that the hospital has upgraded much of its facilities to give adequate health care and reduce medical tourism abroad which is a burden on the economy, further believed that some Nigerians just have the mind-set to go abroad for medical treatment. He called on Nigerians to change their mindset as there are facilities in Nigeria with adequate man-power. For instance, he said UCH has automated its cardiac laboratory with modern equipment and manpower.

The hospital originally built for 355 bed but now has 1000 beds Alonge said has also refurbished emergency department with innovations and additions to make it modern emergency department. It has units where patients are sorted out to determine those that need immediate care, sometimes with oxygen therapy.

He also said the hospital has the best neurosurgery training system in the country as almost 80 per cent of neuro-surgeons in Nigeria were trained at UCH. “We now embark on surgery while the patient is awake and we have attained a day surgery where patients can go home in the evening after having their surgery in the morning”.

READ ALSO: UCH records 18 COVID-19 patients’ deaths, treats over 150, says CMD

“We are advancing in surgery. We can exteriorise a baby leaving the placenta connected to the mother. We can operate on the baby and put it back in the uterus and there would be a normal delivery. We can also scan an unborn baby and analyse all the defects that may occur, offer surgical interventions by picking babies that have anomalies”. The hospital has also introduced Geriatric centre funded by Kensington Adebutu which looks after older persons above 60 years with related sicknesses that go with age such as heart attack, heart failure.

Alonge said that UCH is instrumental to the establishment of the University of Jos, Unilorin, and actively brought University of Maiduguri teaching hospital into existence and sustained it for a long time. “For a couple of years, virtually 90 per cent of CEOs of tertiary health care institutions were either trained by UCH Ibadan or had part of their training with us. So we remain the premier teaching hospital”, he boasted.

For 60 years, he said the hospital has had a share of its challenges and part of it is premised on the brain drain that began in the late 80s were top class physicians migrated but he said that the development did not, however, distort UCH existence.