• Saturday, May 18, 2024
businessday logo


FEC to receive memo to ban public officials from medical trips


A memo to stop the Federal Government from funding public office holders that travel abroad for medical treatment abroad for ailments that even when such treatments for such ailments could be handled in Nigeria is to be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) by next month.

The move to ban foreign medical trips by government officials is coming on the heels when Nigeria is believed to spend about $500millon annually in the form of foreign treatment by Nigerians to countries like India, United States of America, Germany and the United Kingdom.

In an interview with BusinessDay, Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of Health, said that the Federal Ministry of Health currently compiling a list of health institutions in the country that handle specific ailments which Nigerians often travel abroad to treat, with the compilation though not exhaustive, is regularly updated.

The minister revealed that the plan is still at the level of the top management committee of the Ministry of Health as current efforts are being made to ensure that a robust memo is sent to FEC for consideration.

“It has to be well-thought out and we have to carry people along. It is not enough for the Minister of Health to ask the President-in-Council that we should no longer sponsor public servants for cases that can be handled in the country. However, if a public officer says he/she does not want to receive treatment in Nigeria for a treatment that can be done in-country, the person is free but the government will not use public funds for treatment that can be done here. This is when the memo is passed by the President-in-Council,” Chukwu explained.

He however added that it is necessary to grant exceptions to situations when the problem is due to lack of local capacity to handle the concerned ailment.

Lending his view, Osahon Enabulele, president, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) called on Nigerians to always look inwards as exemplified by Idris Wada, executive governor of Kogi State, for solutions to their medical problems as the country is blessed with medical experts in virtually all fields of medicine.

“At NMA’s national health summit at Asaba, Delta state in January, 2013, we advised health practitioners who for reasons of financial returns have perfected the habit of referring patients abroad through Commissioned Agents, to turn a new leaf and be guided by the code of medical ethics and good clinical practice.