There is an increased call for private sector investment in the healthcare sector in order to reverse the trend of foreign exchange spent on medical tourism as well as human capital flight as The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has increased its healthcare intervention in the health sector from N100 billion to N200 billion.
The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who stated this during the opening of the Duchess International Hospital in Lagos, at the weekend, noted that the apex bank increased its intervention fund for the health sector
This, he said, was part of the efforts of CBN to save foreign exchange spent on medical tourism.
Emefiele said: “medical tourism put a huge strain on our foreign reserves and more importantly, for every $1 billion allocated to medical treatment abroad, there is less than $1 billion that could be available to other critical sectors of our economy.
“As part of this effort, the CBN led by select private sector stakeholders supported Covid-19 through CACOVID and in a bid to further drive the recovery of our economy, monetary policy recognised that while the interventions in our manufacturing sector are essential, it is also essential, we continue to give support to the medical sector of our country.”
“When intervention on Covid commenced, CBN set aside N100 billion to support the healthcare sector, but upon the rise in demand, we have disbursed N107.7 billion, supporting 114 healthcare projects which include medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, dental services, eye clinics both private and public hospital just to mention a few.”
He added: “We had taken up N100 to support but the monetary policy has said we should move it further up to N200 billion. We would continue to do whatever can be done to support healthcare.”
He further called on banks to improve on loan facilities to the healthcare and also members of our private sector community to invest also.
Similarly, the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, also urged more private sector participation in the healthcare sector to reverse medical tourism and human capital flight of medical practitioners.
Osibanjo said: “the standards and personnel at this hospital are comparable to anywhere in the world and reversing medical tourism by delivering high standards of care would go a long way by using the most advanced technology and treatment to give the fastest most convenient access to the best medical expertise available anywhere in the world.
“With investments like this seeking high quality medical personnel, we can even reverse the trend of doctors leaving the country. The reasons for their leaving are obvious, better remuneration, better facilities.”
Also at the opening, the group managing director of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe said: “I do hope such hospitals reverse medical tourism the country. For all private sectors, participants take a cue from this, we need many more of this.”
Furthermore, the chairman, Reddington Hospital Group, Dr. Adeyemi Onabowale noted that, one of the major problems with healthcare in Nigeria is Inadequate funding provided for both the public and the private sector which, he said, needs to be addressed.