Niza­miye Hospi­tal aims to dis­cour­age med­i­cal tourism

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - By Judd Leonard Okafor & Safiyyah Ab­dur-razaq

Med­i­cal tourism has not been ex­plored in the Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory by in­vestors in the health sec­tor; per­haps it is cap­i­tal in­ten­sive, but it will re­duce the rate at which Nige­ri­ans travel abroad for med­i­cal treat­ment.

The Abuja car­ni­val or­ga­nized ev­ery year by the Federal Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture and Na­tional Ori­en­ta­tion draws par­tic­i­pants from across 22 coun­tries glob­ally, just as qual­ity hos­pi­tals with qual­i­fied med­i­cal per­son­nel will play host to cit­i­zens from across borders seek­ing qual­ity med­i­cal care.

The Federal Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FCTA) has over the years es­tab­lished Gen­eral Hos­pi­tals with the up­grade of Gwag­wal­ada to a teach­ing hospi­tal, but that seem not to have sat­is­fied the de­sire for ter­tiary health care sys­tem in the FCT.

A few weeks ago, Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan com­mis­sioned the Niza­miye Hospi­tal in Abuja ac­com­pa­nied by the FCT Min­is­ter Se­na­tor Bala Mo­hammed and the Min­is­ter of Health Pro­fes­sor Onye­buchi Chukwu.

Speak­ing at a health sum­mit ear­lier, Pres­i­dent Jonathan had lamented that Nigeria still has the largest num­ber of people in Africa trav­el­ling out of their coun­try for med­i­cal at­ten­tion; this of course is due largely to the ab­sence of well equipped hos­pi­tals in Nigeria.

The Pres­i­dent was wor­ried by the scale of cap­i­tal flight lost to med­i­cal tourism, which ur­gent steps have to be taken to ad­dress the ma­jor chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with the sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment of the health sec­tor.

The Nige­rian health sys­tem ex­pe­ri­enced some set­backs be­cause govern­ment was not com­mit­ted to fund­ing, up­grade in health fa­cil­i­ties, and pro­mot­ing the dig­nity of labour by pay­ing nurses, phar­ma­cists , doc­tors and surgeons well to en­cour­age them to stay back home and sal­vaged our health in­sti­tu­tions.

Nige­ri­ans have no busi­ness trav­el­ing to other coun­tries for health care or spend­ing an es­ti­mated N270 bil­lion on med­i­cal tourism ev­ery year when such fa­cil­i­ties to­day can be found in Niza­miye Hospi­tal in Abuja.

It is wor­ri­some that Nige­rian women now travel over­seas to give birth; this waste in spend­ing can be at­trib­uted to the long time ne­glect of lo­cal health in­sti­tu­tions in the coun­try amidst loss of con­fi­dence of health work­ers.

The new hospi­tal is es­tab­lished as a med­i­cal arm of the Nigeria Turk­ish In­ter­na­tional Col­leges (NTIC), Turk­ish in­vestors seek­ing to in­tro­duce world class med­i­cal care to Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

In an in­ter­view with the Chief Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor and Gen­eral Sur­geon Dr. Mustafa Ah­sen, he said the con­struc­tion of the hospi­tal be­gan four years ago with a view to raise the stan­dard of med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and health care in Nigeria.

“We aim to pro­vide high level med­i­cal ser­vices and also en­cour­age cor­dial pa­tient-doc­tor re­la­tion­ship. All our fa­cil­i­ties are of the high­est qual­ity and I am proud of all our de­part­ments with 16 full time doc­tors, the hospi­tal is well equipped with the state of the art ma­chin­ery.

“The hospi­tal has a 55 bed ca­pac­ity, we try to bring in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of ter­tiary health care to Abuja to en­cour­age Nige­ri­ans to un­dergo med­i­cal treat­ment at home rather than fly­ing abroad for health ser­vices that are ob­tain­able in Nigeria.

“We en­cour­age pa­tients to come for treat­ment here, be­cause when they go abroad their fam­ily mem­bers and close as­so­ciates can­not sup­port them dur­ing or af­ter oper­a­tion , that is very es­sen­tial to re­cov­ery.

“Niza­miye hospi­tal has per­formed over 50 surg­eries within the short pe­riod the hospi­tal was open to mem­bers of the pub­lic. We are wait­ing for the ar­rival of our first class am­bu­lances from the United States and Hol­land to add to what we have on ground.

“Kid­ney trans­plant is very per­ti­nent; only one or two hos­pi­tals can per­form this oper­a­tion, the team of doc­tors are usu­ally led by con­sul­tant sur­geon from Texas and the UK, but Niza­miye hospi­tal has con­cluded plans to en­sure that kid­ney trans­plant is car­ried out in Abuja with­out the aid of for­eign doc­tors.”

Many health ex­perts have rea­soned that Nigeria is not among the few coun­tries with good sto­ries to tell about qual­ity health care, be­cause we lack trust in the ser­vices pro­vided by our own people aris­ing from lack of ad­e­quate health care fa­cil­i­ties.

Though the Nige­rian govern­ment has of­ten times banned its of­fi­cials from trav­el­ing abroad for med­i­cal treat­ment, mem­bers of the Federal Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC), Na­tional As­sem­bly mem­bers and heads of De­part­ments and Agencies sneak out of the coun­try for med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Nige­ri­ans can now un­dergo any form of treat­ment lo­cally through pri­vate hos­pi­tals like Niza­miye, and the Gwag­wal­ada Univer­sity Teach­ing Hospi­tal all in Abuja to at­tend to the health needs of the people.

The pres­i­dent of the Nige­rian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion Dr Osa­hon Enab­ulele has on sev­eral oc­ca­sions said that if hos­pi­tals are well equipped in Nigeria with good poli­cies for med­i­cal health work­ers, trav­el­ing abroad for med­i­cal care will be un­de­sir­able while the coun­try will be­gin to play host to med­i­cal tourists from other coun­tries.

There has been in­crease in malaria, cholera and other dis­eases as a re­sult of poor drink­ing wa­ter, mos­quito bites and dirty en­vi­ron­ment which has caused the death of mil­lions of Nige­ri­ans in the last 10 decades.

The United Na­tions sta­tis­tics of African women and chil­dren ex­posed to ail­ments com­ing from poor liv­ing is said to be alarm­ing, and we as a people must learn to keep our en­vi­ron­ment clean to re­sist the at­tack of wa­ter and en­vi­ron­men­tal borne de­sease.

Though re­cent poli­cies of the federal govern­ment have shown clearly that the coun­try is in dire need of qual­ity health care de­liv­ery, but of­ten times con­strained by poor fund­ing and hon­est im­ple­men­ta­tion of such poli­cies.

The med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Niza­miye said, “It is im­por­tant to know that med­i­cal care at the Niza­miye Hospi­tal is af­ford­able and cat­e­go­rized be­cause the pa­tient is given treat­ment ac­cord­ing to de­mands, for in­stance there are people who will name the type of ward they want to stay and the type of food they want to eat, which may not be the same with oth­ers.”

A pa­tient un­der­go­ing treat­ment at Niza­miye Hospi­tal in Abuja.

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