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Government Sponsored Medical Tourism To End In January 2017

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Saturday, said no Nigerian would be allowed to go abroad for treatment on government sponsorship from January 2017 that with the proposed partnership between the Federal Government and the Akwa Ibom Government on the operations of Ibom Specialist Hospital, Uyo.

The minister, who stated this in Uyo while inspecting facilities at the Akwa Ibom government-owned Ibom Specialist Hospital, pointed out that with facilities at the hospital, medical tourism abroad could be reversed.

He said that visiting the hospital complex was an eye opener, and noted that there is no such complex like this anywhere in Nigeria” the minister said.

“We will partner to make sure that it works and reverses medical tourism. People from Ghana and Togo can come to Nigeria for medical treatment.

“We will start using this facility, with this facility, no Nigerian will be allowed to go abroad for treatment,” Adewole said.

The minister also cautioned medical doctors against running a syndicate of sending people abroad for treatment for pecuniary interest but said that individuals could go abroad at their own expense if they wished but not on government sponsorship.

He commended the state government for constructing the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) at Ikot Ekpene to help reduce the pressure on the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) and also said the state-owned Diagnostic Centre at Ikot Ekpene would be converted to Lassa Fever Diagnostic Centre.

Earlier, the minister and his entourage had paid a courtesy visit on the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, at Government House, Uyo.

The governor had appealed for assistance from the Federal Government to make the state a healthcare tourism destination in Nigeria.

Mr. Emmanuel said the state government had invested much in the health sector and would like the Federal Government to help boost the patronage of the Ibom Specialist Hospital.

LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that the Ibom Specialist Hospital became operational in November 2015 six months after it was commissioned by former Governor Godswill Akpabio.

The hospital, initially known as the Akwa Ibom 20th Anniversary Hospital, is now officially called Ibom Specialist Hospital.

The hospital became a subject of controversy in September after Mr. Akpabio, now senate minority leader, travelled to the United Kingdom for medical attention after a car accident, abandoning the multibillion naira facility his administration promoted as being of world class standard.

In September 2015, Akpabio had attributed the delayed take-off of the hospital to the delay in the arrival of foreign doctors, said to be awaiting clearance from relevant medical associations in Nigeria and work permit from the Nigeria Immigration Service.


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