By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The National Association of Resident Doctors in Nigeria (NARD) has blamed medical tourism being undertaken by Nigerians on the nation’s political elite who serve as role models for the rest of the citizens.
The President of NARD, Dr Olusegun Olaopa, was quoted as apportioning the blame while interacting with the Director- General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr Asishana Okauru, when he paid him a courtesy call at the NGF Secretariat in Abuja on Thursday.
Olaopa, in a statement issued by NGF Head, Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, urged members of Nigeria’s political elite to make bold to seek medical help at home in order to encourage the rest of the people to seek same.
“Our political elite must make a bold statement by seeking medical attention in the country because we are never short of the required expertise in Nigeria.
“What our hospitals lack are equipment and only by having our very important people in our hospitals would the standards of these hospitals rise to the same level as those abroad,” Olaopa said.
The NARD President added that the backwardness in the nation’s healthcare sector was caused 30 per cent by lack of technical initiative and 70 per cent by lack of political will, which according to him, have undermined healthcare delivery in the country.
He said that he had observed that since assuming office healthcare delivery in the country was too polarised to be left in the hands of doctors alone.
He decried a situation where the health sector was neglected by the various tiers of government in the country where health officials relied on the intervention of technocrats “to get the ears of states’ chief executives” and other highly placed officials.
Responding, Okauru said the NGF was ready to broaden areas of collaboration with the Doctors.
He also pledged to offer them access to governors whenever their services became encumbered by any form of redtapism at the sub-national level.
He urged the association to feel free to approach the NGF anytime it felt like the doors were shut in their faces by any state executive.
Okauru disclosed that due to the professional ways the secretariat was serving the governors several key interventions in the country had been channeled through the forum.
This, according to Okauru made development partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), DFID and the World Bank to make the NGF Secretariat their first bridge to access the rest of the country.