Nizamiye Hospital aims to discourage medical tourism
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.