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Bill on medical tourism scales second reading in Senate



The bill seeking to check revenue leakages from medical tourism scaled second reading in the Senate on Thursday.

The primary objective of the bill is to reduce the number of Nigerians traveling to other countries for medical care.

The bill titled: “Federal Medical Centres (Establishment) Bill, 2021,” was sponsored by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed.

Ahmed, who led the debate on the bill, said the absence of a legal framework for the regulation, development, and management of Federal Medical Centers (FMCs) to set standards for rendering of health services was hindering the provision of intensive, effective, and efficient healthcare services to Nigerians.

According to her, the measure has led to a number of challenges in the health sector, including under-funding, weak facilities, and infrastructure, the poor motivation of health workers and low budget.

Others were weak accountability, conflicts with the political structure of the states, and industrial strikes which have led to inadequacies, shortcomings, and weaknesses which hindered effective healthcare delivery services.

The senator noted that the passage of the bill would reduce the number of Nigerians traveling to other countries for medical care.

She regretted that an average of 20,000 Nigerians traveled to India each year for medical assistance due to the absence of a solid healthcare system at home.

READ ALSO: Senate condemns Buhari’s foreign trips for medical treatment

Ahmed stressed that the bill would also sufficiently address the remuneration of employees of the FMCs and check the exodus of doctors and nurses to other countries.

She said: “77 percent of black doctors in the United States are Nigerians and there is rarely any top medical institution in the US or Europe where you don’t find Nigerians managing at the top level.

“Hardly a year passes without a major national strike by nurses, doctors, or health consultants. The major reasons for these strikes are poor salaries and lack of government investment in the health sector.”

After scaling the second reading, the bill was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Health for further legislative work.

The committee is expected to report back to the lawmakers in four weeks.

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