By Emmanuel Afonne
Dr Arun Balaganga, a medical expert based in Abuja, has called on Nigerians to shun medical tourism and focus on improving the country’s healthcare system to ease the handling of challenges like the Coronavirus pandemic.
Balaganga, a specialist on precision medicine with the help of genomics, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday that experience had shown that most developed economies relied so much on their health sector to prosper.
According to him, Nigeria will fall into the category of such countries to earn foreign exchange if healthcare delivery enters the priority list of the federal and states governments.
“When you look at the total allocation for the whole country and the money spent on medical tourism, you will see that the money spent on medical tourism is higher than the total budgetary allocation for healthcare.
“So, this situation should be reversed; there should be a reversal of medical tourism.
“If the country has a robust healthcare system, good hospitals and good facilities, it can actually prevent brain drain, more and more doctors will like to practice in their own country.
“I don’t think someone will travel to another country if his or her country has good medical facilities; quality medical healthcare happens from different angles – supply of drugs, infrastructure, equipment or training,” Balaganga said.
The medical expert, who was a Programme Manager, Primary Healthcare, in Cross River, urged the Federal Government to establish more COVID-19 testing centres to help contain the spread of the pandemic.
He commended the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), for taking proactive steps in combating the spread of the virus, but noted that more work needed to be done to consolidate on the gains.
“In Nigeria, NCDC is the only authentic agency allowed to test people; there are about six centres currently running the test and all the centres are working in full capacity.
“In India, the government gave permission to private organisations to run the test and the test is being done for free.
“When we do more testing, there are chances that more cases may come up and the test should be streamlined in such a way that we can easily identify when a positive person gets in touch with others.
“More testing is required to find out the actual intensity of cases in Nigeria, but for now, NCDC is doing a commendable work because they are doing the test round-the-clock and it is not an easy job.
“Any wrong report can end up with a lot of complications, so all the frontline health workers are doing a commendable job but I think the number of testing of people should increase,” he said. (NAN)