Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi

Lagos targets specialist hospitals to corner medical tourism, stem brain drain in health sector

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Lagos Government has announced plans to establish specialist hospitals in the state in a bid to reduce medical tourism and brain drain effect in the health sector.

Lagos Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this during the Doctors for Change (DFC) conference in Lagos, Saturday, said the state identified trust, and lack of medical specialties, as factors driving Nigerians overseas for medical care, adding that the trend would be reversed to make the state a medical tourist destination.

“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.

“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, Lagos 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,” Abayomi said.

He said that the government would continue to invest in human resources, set standards and right policies to ensure delivery of quality healthcare services.

The commissioner said the state was embarking on a digital footprint that would connect all health facilities, to holistic and collective data on the health seeking behaviour of Lagosians.

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

He said the 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,” he said.

Also, President, Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Dr Pamela Ajayi, said Nigerians in Diaspora have huge impact on the economy, as she disclosed that $5.16 billion was remitted in a month this year.

Ajayi said the HFN would continue to collaborate with the government to ensure that favourable policy was evolved to impact the health sector.

Similarly, President, Guild of Medical Directors, Dr Abiodun Kuti, said the level of brain drain in the country was alarming, advising that policies should be enacted to encourage doctors stay or return to the country.

Also, President, Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), Dr Chinyere Anyaogu, pointed out that 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.

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

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

According to him, DFC members, who had 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.

Remarking, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said Diasporans were 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, as she further stressed the importance of synergy between Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora and the government, to promote socioeconomic development.

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