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Lagos diversifies healthcare to reduce brain drain, medical tourism

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State

*Prof. Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, says the Lagos State Government will continue to invest in human resources, set standards and right policies to ensure delivery of quality healthcare services to consumers

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

Prof. Akin Abayomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, says the state is establishing specialist hospitals to reduce medical tourism and brain drain in the health sector.

Abayomi said this during the Doctors for Change (DFC) conference at the weekend in Lagos.

ConsumerConnect learnt the Lagos State Government (LASG) said it had identified trust and lack of medical specialties as factors driving Nigerians overseas for medical care.

The Health Commissioner stated this trend would be reversed to make the state a medical tourist destination, according to agency report.

Abayomi stated: “We have many general hospitals but what we lack are specialist facilities, and you can get specialist care both in the government and private hospitals.

“What we are trying to do is that we are building more specialist hospitals.”

He also said: “We have the Massey Children Specialist Hospital, Infectious Disease Research Institute, the largest psychiatric hospital in Africa at Ketu-Ejirin, Epe, the Omotunde Ajoke Cole Hospital, Island.

“We are trying to create a diversification of medical care, so if you need kidney transplant, heart surgery, the highest level of infectious diseases, rehabilitation centres, you can get it here.”

The Lagos State Government will continue to invest in human resources, set standards and right policies to ensure delivery of quality healthcare services.

According to him, the state is embarking on a digital footprint that will connect all health facilities to holistic and collective data on the health seeking behaviour of Lagosians.

Abayomi further disclosed the state desires to partner with the DFC on how the private sector could assist in achieving its strategic goals.

He also noted that Lagos State would continue to evolve favourable policies to attract doctors in the Diaspora, back to Nigeria, either fully or partly.

“Lagos needs to be an international destination for cutting-edge medical service delivery, innovation and research for the betterment of its people,” Abayomi said.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Pamela Ajayi, President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN), also said Nigerians in the Diaspora have huge impact on the economy.

Dr. Ajayi disclosed that $5.16 billion was remitted in a month in 2022.

HFN will continue to collaborate with the government to ensure that favourable policy was evolved to impact the health sector, noted Ajayi.

Similarly, the statement said Dr. Abiodun Kuti, President, Guild of Medical Directors, remarked that the level of brain drain in the country was alarming.

Kuti said that policies should be enacted to encourage doctors stay or return to the country.

Likewise, Dr. Chinyere Anyaogu, President, Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), said the Association’s mission was to achieve a healthier Nigeria for a healthier world.

Anyaogu said ANPA, registered in the US, represents the interest of over 5,000 dentists and physicians across the US, and had contributed considerably to healthcare development in Nigeria.

She stressed the need for robust partnerships in accelerating healthcare delivery and development in the country.

Dr. Babaseyi Oyesola, Convener of DFC, said the DFC as a group of Nigerian healthcare practitioners home and in the Diaspora, is committed to enhancing healthcare delivery in the country.

Oyesola noted the DFC works to increase access to care and improve the health of all Nigerians through research, education, collaboration, and advocacy.

DFC members, who returned to the country, had set up cardiology centres, cancer centres, medical laboratories among others, to reduce the need of Nigerians to travel for such care, stated he.

Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), also said the citizens resident abroad are valuable asset, worth more than the billions of naira they sent home as remittances.

Dabiri-Erewa said that they contribute to national development through medical missions, investments, training and skills transfers.

The former Federal lawmaker stressed the importance of synergy between Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora and the government, to promote socioeconomic development.

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