WORRIED by the billions of naira the country loses yearly due to overseas medical treatment by most Nigerians, the Federal Government plans to focus its 2013 health budget on improving the quality of services at the tertiary levels to curb medical tourism.
Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, disclosed this on Monday while briefing the press after his presentation on the key performance indicators of the health sector in 2012 and proposed budget for the next fiscal year, at the State House, Abuja.
According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Health Minister on Media and Communications, Dan Nwomeh, Chukwu said to achieve the goal, the Federal Government will intensify efforts to restore public confidence in the quality of tertiary health care system, while more public private partnerships will be pursued and realised.
He said the government will complete outstanding priority projects including the National Centre for Disease Control, the National Diagnostic Centre, new trauma centres in six orthopaedic and specialist hospitals across the country and continued rehabilitation and upgrade of teaching hospitals, while expressing the hope that these steps will foster efficiency and create more jobs in the health sector.
Chukwu listed other targets for 2013 such as the prioritisation of health in national development instruments including the Vision 20:20, the transformation agenda and the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), passage of the National Health Bill into law, mainstreaming the health sector into all areas of national development and renewed commitment towards attaining universal health coverage.
On the key performance indicators in the health sector under the 2012 budget, the minister said a number of federal tertiary healthcare facilities were upgraded, just as there were increases in numbers of resident doctors trained overseas, centres screening for cancer nationwide, use of insecticide treated nets by pregnant women and health facilities providing specialised care for multi drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis.
He also said significant improvements were recorded in emergency preparedness and response to epidemics such as measles, yellow and Lassa fevers, guinea worm, lead poisoning, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), malaria and other communicable diseases.
He said: “There has been a phenomenal increase in medical tourism by Nigerians, which is hinged on a number of factors like the lack of appropriate and modern facilities in our tertiary centres.”
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