Thursday May 23, 2019

Nigeria Spends More than $1 Billion Per Annum to Medical Tourism, Say Authorities

To provide access to high-quality care, authorities plan to build six new medical centers across the country, said Health Ministry official Nneka Orji

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To provide access to high-quality care, authorities plan to build six new medical centers across the country, said Health Ministry official Nneka Orji. Wikimedia

Nigerian authorities say the country is losing more than $1 billion annually to medical tourism as tens of thousands of Nigerians travel abroad in search of the best treatment. Nigeria’s Health Ministry says it is building several world-class health centers to address the issue, but not even the country’s president seems to trust health care in Nigeria.

Fifty-three-year-old Ibrahim Bello, a former Nigerian lawmaker from Kaduna state, lost both his parents to diabetes. He was afraid the disease might run in the family, so he went for a medical exam. Unhappy with the quality of care at home, Bello flew to India, like many of Nigeria’s well-to-do.

“Comparative analysis between Nigerian case and where I passed through in India, honestly, I cannot do it here because the margin is so wide that every Nigerian who has any health issue – his prayer is how can he be moved to India,” he said.

Bello is one of tens of thousands of Nigerians who each year opt to travel abroad for treatment. Health officials and some medical professionals argue that good care is available in the country – but at private clinics. Nadey Hakim, a transplant surgeon who has been practicing for more than three decades, is among those who argue in favor of domestic treatment.

“I don’t see why any Nigerian patient should go outside Nigeria to have a transplant when we can do it for them in Nigeria,” said Hakim. But for those who can’t afford private care, or medical tourism, there are few good options.

In April 2001, Nigeria and four other African Union countries met and pledged to target at least 15% of their annual budget for health care. Many years after, Nigeria remains far from reaching the goal and ranks at the bottom of global health surveys. To provide access to high-quality care, authorities plan to build six new medical centers across the country, said Health Ministry official Nneka Orji.

nigeria, medical tourism
Health officials and some medical professionals argue that good care is available in the country – but at private clinics. Wikimedia

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“These centers of excellence are supposed to deliver those cares, those interventions that people would naturally go outside to seek. Things like cancer treatment, brain tumors, brain surgeries, and fine surgery interventions,” Orji said. But even Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari — with access to the best health care in Nigeria — made several trips to Britain for medical care in his first term.

In April, he railed against Nigeria’s poor response to public health crises, outbreaks of deadly disease, and mass migration of doctors. But critics who disagree will be waiting to see what the president will do to change the status quo. (VOA)

Next Story

Researchers found a new Drug to Reduce Alcohol Addiction in Teenagers

The drug is (+)-Naltrexone can reduce the drinking habit in teenagers.

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A new drug can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers
A new drug can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers. Pixabay
  • Researchers have found a new drug that may eventually help to reduce alcohol addiction in adults who used to binge during their adolescent years.

A new drug found which can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers

“During our teen years, the brain is still in a relatively immature state. Binge drinking worsens this situation, as alcohol undermines the normal developmental processes that affect how our brain matures,” said lead author Jon Jacobsen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

“Therefore, when an adolescent who has been binge drinking becomes an adult, they’re often left with an immature brain, which assists in the development of alcohol dependence,” Jacobsen added.

For the study, published in the Journal Neuropharmacology, researchers observed that adolescent mice involved in binge drinking behavior developed an increased sensitivity to alcohol as adults and engaged in further binge drinking.

The researchers were able to prevent some of these detrimental behaviors observed in adulthood, by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain.

The drug is (+)-Naltrexone, known to block the immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4).

“This drug effectively switched off the impulse in mice to binge drink. The mice were given this drug still sought out alcohol, but their level of drinking was greatly reduced,” says senior author Professor Mark Hutchinson, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide.

“We’re excited by the finding that we can potentially block binge drinking in an adult after they have experienced such behavior during adolescence, by stopping the activation of the brain’s immune system. It’s the first time this has been shown and gives us hope that our work has implications for the eventual treatment of alcohol addiction in adults,” Hutchinson noted.(IANS)