• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

N12bn healthcare investment seeks to stem Nigeria’s medical tourism

medical-tourism

Household spend, a dominant component of Nigeria’s GDP growth by expenditure, will ease if Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre (THVC) sees through plans to replicate its Ogun State health facility in Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Abuja and Calabar.

Available statistics from the Federal Ministry of Health reveal that households spend as much as 69 percent of the country’s total health expediture, while  the Federal Government (12 percent), State Government (8 percent), Local Government (4 percent), Development partners (4 percent) and Companies (3 percent), cumulatively accounting for 31 percent.

Hard hit by rising inflation and slowing economic growth, household expenditure in Africa’s largest economy plunged -8.66 percent in the first three months of 2016, BusinessDay data shows, making it difficult to sustain spending volumes.

Against this backdrop, analysts see the expansion of THVC, a specialist centre for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, shedding significant expenses incurred by Nigeria’s estimated 30 million households, who are grappling with higher food, fuel and electricity prices, but more importantly, the sliding value of the naira to the dollar.

“Less health spend will considerably relieve households’ disposable income as they can now save more,” a group of five analysts polled in a BusinessDay survey unanimously said.

“From calculations, THVC offers cheaper rates for cardiovascular treatment compared to the average spend on medical tourism,” they added.

On the average, a Nigerian medical tourist spends between $20,000 and $40,000 on each medical trip, according to the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).

Open heart surgery, renal transplants, brain surgery, cancer and eye treatment are the most sought after treatments by Nigerians, BusinessDay investigations show.

Nigerian health tourists save between  N3.64million and N7.28 million resorting to THVC for treatments, BusinessDay calculations show.

Depending on the procedure, “we charge between N2 million and N4 million,” said Kamar Adeleke, CEO of THVC in response to questions.

“Our equipment conforms to international standards and latest technology. Presently, we are planning to replicate what we have here in Lagos, Ibadan, Kano, Abuja and Calabar,” quipped Adeleke.

“It cost us N2.4 billion to put this centre together, and we incur millions in its maintenance,” he added.

By 2020, it is estimated that Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) will become the leading cause of global health burden, accounting for 73 percent of total global mortality and 56 percent of total morbidity.

THVC is a specialist in treating cardiovascular diseases, and its health centre which is situated in  Babcock University, Ilesha-Remo, Ogun state, is worth N2.4 billion.

From our calculations, THVC may invest as much as N12 billion if it sees through its plans to expand to the states aforementioned.

Phillipa Onyekwelu, whose husband undertook  open heart surgery in the health centre, said she was totally ignorant of the centre’s existence before now and was ecstatic her husband got quality treatment.

“It cost N4 million  for my husband’s open heart surgery, compared to the budgeted $25,000 we had planned for treatment in India. The latter figure doesn’t even reflect the cost of travel and accommodation,” Onyekwelu said.

Billions of dollars that should help the ailing Nigerian economy are being pumped into the economies of other countries by over 30,000 Nigerians, earlier reports show.

The estimated $1 billion spent on medical tourism annually by Nigerians can provide six world class hospitals with at least 238 beds in each of Nigeria’s geo-political zones at $167 million.

Each of these hospitals if established in Nigeria will be able to provide specialty wards for Surgery, Trauma, Cardiology, Respiratory, Elderly care (including stroke), Gastrointestinal, and Operating theatres for emergency / high risk surgery.

Nigeria has been described as one of the biggest sufferers of medical tourism in the world. Factors like inadequate medical equipment and personnel, and also inadequate infrastructure,  have greatly contributed to the abysmal state of Nigeria’s healthcare sector.

The Saudi-German Hospital had in 2015 announced plans to invest about $300 million to establish hospitals in Lagos, Abuja and Kano.

Samir Shaker, chief operating officer of Saudi- German hospitals, had said that “Nigeria deserves such an investment after a survey which showed that Nigeria’s healthcare system was poor , leading to an influx of Nigerian patient to Saudi Arabia for treatment.”

The private sector-the biggest provider of health care services in Nigeria- struggles to stay afloat in a pool of challenges which have deterred the sector in delivering affordable, accessible and quality health care for Nigerians.

LOLADE AKINMURELE