Sadly, the fee to the general public treasury of Buhari’s well being tourism just isn’t recognized.
It looks as if an epilogue to a badly choreographed drama that President Muhammadu Buhari is present process toothache remedy within the UK, after spending greater than 225 days on related holidays, simply three weeks to the top of his eight-year Presidency on 29 Could. The president had jetted out to London on 3 Could, to hitch a galaxy of world leaders within the coronation of King Charles III on 6 Could, however determined to increase his keep by one week, to allow him get pleasure from good healthcare, another time, at public expense. We wished that he had not dedicated this injudiciousness.
The disclosure of his ailment by his Particular Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, final Tuesday, whereas speaking the delayed return was one of many uncommon public intimations of the character of his illness, in his serial medical tourisms that ignited vast fulminations. The extended-stay, we dare say, is a tragic reminder of how his medical tourism started after solely eight months in workplace. One nationwide newspaper put the entire variety of days he spent overseas for this objective at 225 days as at 4 December, 2022. Mr President, that toothache is treatable in Nigeria; and the kilos sterling it should incur and price of parking the presidential jet for an additional week, are waste of public funds.
Buhari undertook his first medical journey to the UK on 5 February, 2016, and this lasted for six days. On January 23, 2017, he launched into one other one which lasted 50 days, as he returned on 10 March. The longest medical journey that yr spanned 104 days, for an undisclosed sickness. These medical peregrinations occurred all via his presidency, in a file surpassing that of Umaru Yar’Adua, who spent 172 days overseas on the identical grounds. The Yar’Adua/Buhari well being challenges fairly justify the view in some quarters that the well being standing of the president ought to be of public data.
Sadly, the fee to the general public treasury of Buhari’s well being tourism just isn’t recognized, and will by no means be, as opacity and lack of accountability outline governance within the nation. However with the over 40 nations he visited in about 84 journeys, and the N50.75 billion price of sustaining the Presidential Air Fleet on the finish of 2022 – as one nationwide every day reported, this affords a hen’s eye view of the quantity his in poor health well being has price the nation.
Painfully, Nigeria’s healthcare supply has been lacking in all of this. The president by no means for as soon as obtained himself handled regionally, whether or not in a public or non-public hospital, regardless of how minor the ailment has been. It’s a perverse incentive to different public officers like governors to repeatedly take pleasure in the identical at public expense. Buhari’s lack of belief in our public well being system stems from the federal government’s poor consideration to human improvement issues, which has earned him thumbs down via a lot of his presidency.
It’s infuriating that Aso Rock Clinic, which must have taken care of the well being issues of the president and his household just isn’t match for objective, regardless of the billions of naira allotted within the nationwide finances yearly to it. In 2022, a complete of N20.8 billion was offered for the development of the Presidential Wing of the clinic. Even the First Girl, Aisha Buhari, and her daughter, Zahra, had been vehement of their denunciation of the inefficiency of the system in 2017. Aisha had then screamed, “I referred to as the Aso Clinic to seek out out if they’ve an X-Ray machine, they mentioned it isn’t working. In the long run, I needed to go to a hospital owned and operated by foreigners 100 per cent.” There was no syringe, she mentioned. The daughter, on her Instagram deal with, cynically inveighed that “atypical Paracetamol” was not out there within the Clinic.
If a hospital for the nation’s first household is so dysfunctional, it’s a on condition that no public hospital in Nigeria is more likely to be in good condition. This explains why medical medical doctors in tertiary public well being establishments are all the time on strike, leading to threats to lives and, in some circumstances, the loss of life of sufferers. Buhari will return to satisfy the fury of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and expiration of their ultimatum over a slew of welfare calls for that have to be met, or its members will go on complete strike.
The physique needs the rejection of a Invoice looking for to stop medical medical doctors from being issued full working towards licences till after 5 years in service, as deterrent to their travelling overseas to ply their commerce after being skilled at extremely subsidised prices by the federal government. Additionally it is asking for a 200% wage increment; cost of 2014, 2015, 2016 wage arrears; and people from minimal wage consequential changes, amongst different points. That Invoice is discriminatory and infringes on medical doctors’ rights. Subsequently, it ought to be thrown away. A labourer deserves his wages. Since these arrears had been accrued beneath Buhari’s tenure, his authorities ought to clear them earlier than he vacates workplace.
The NARD constitution of calls for, together with the underfunding of public well being establishments and never fostering an enabling setting for a non-public, world class healthcare supply system to thrive within the nation, underscore why medical personnel are main the japa caravan – the excessive emigration of Nigeria professionals to the UK, different components of Europe, the US and Saudi Arabia, for greener pastures. About 10,296 Nigerian medical doctors are working towards within the UK alone, says the Nigeria Medical Affiliation (NMA).
Instructively, the hospitals that handled Buhari these previous eight years are privately owned. King Edward VII’s Hospital, for instance, which handled the late Queen Elizabeth II, is a non-public hospital. And no UK Prime Minister or US President travels outdoors their nations to hunt medical consideration. As Buhari failed to know this truth and its import to our sovereign picture, his successor, Bola Tinubu mustn’t.
The UK, along with India and others, milk Nigeria about $2 billion yearly in medical tourism. Minister of Well being, Osagie Ehanire, talked about this loss two years in the past, on the inauguration of the Cardiac Catheterisation and Hospital Complicated in Abuja. It is a huge haemorrhage of our scarce overseas change. Tinubu mustn’t fall for the bait of being usually flown to Western capitals to deal with headache, chilly or any minor ailment that may be dealt with inside.
A president who submits himself for therapy in his area, buoys up medical doctors’ confidence, enhances the capability of the well being system to ship and achieve extra public belief. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo demonstrated this management by instance final August, when he went to Duchess Worldwide Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos for a knee surgical procedure, somewhat than journey overseas. Nigerians applauded him for it. Well being is wealth, because the previous saying goes. As such, healthcare supply deserves precedence consideration via higher funding, coaching, gear and reward to medical personnel, than it presently attracts, to avoid wasting lives and staunch useless capital flight.