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Healthcare can generate foreign exchange

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Nigeria healthcare can be source of foreign exchange - Former health minister.

During a telephone conversation with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the former Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, stated that Nigeria’s health sector has the potential to become a source of foreign exchange if it is adequately capitalized on. According to him, Nigeria’s healthcare system is not quite as terrible as many people would have you believe because the country is still home to some of the most qualified medical specialists that you will find any place in the world.

He added that Nigeria needs to motivate healthcare professionals, pay them well, and improve its operating environment. If they do these things, they will be able to reverse the trend of Medical Tourism and impress people to come to Nigeria for treatment, which will result in an increase in the country’s ability to earn foreign exchange. With more Investment, Nigeria may rely less on oil and more on its health sector. For far too long, the country has prioritized oil production over other vital sectors, such as tourism, healthcare, and Education.

State governments need to reignite their primary healthcare centers.

Concerning the issue of the Privatization of Tertiary Health Institutions, which is being proposed in certain quarters, the former minister stated that he would have been in favour of it if Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) and Secondary Healthcare Centers were operational. Prof. Adewole, who served as minister from 2015 to 2019, remarked that one of his primary responsibilities was to ensure that all 10,000 (PHCs) across the nation were operational. He added that efforts to continue the program are ongoing.

Prof. Adewole urged state governments to reignite their Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), and he recommends that at least one PHC be located in each political ward in order to provide medical attention to 10,000 people. However, about 70 percent of people living in the country will visit a Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), while 20 percent will go to a Secondary Healthcare Centre, which means that 10 or fewer percent of people will genuinely require the services of a tertiary facility.

Healthcare should be made available to all while considering privatization.

With these numbers, he affirmed that they would be able to ensure that the remaining 10% are covered by health Insurance or by other generous philanthropists who wish to take care of their services. However, given the current state of affairs, Prof. Adewole said he would not push for Privatization because the vast majority of the country’s population does not have access to any other options and vending for themselves would be something difficult for them.

However, in a previous interview with NAN, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, the National President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), encouraged the Federal Government to consider the possibility of privatizing the nation’s hospitals so that they can function at their full potential. According to Dr. Ojinmah, this is something that needs to be done in order to ensure that teaching hospitals and public hospitals have access to the required funding in order for them to continue operating.

Nigerian universities can also generate income from foreign students.

Moreover, the former minister noted that If universities in Nigeria have adequate funding and are operating effectively, foreign students may choose to pursue their Education there, which should result in increased Revenue for the nation. He added that the depreciation of the Naira has also made leaving Nigeria an attractive option for people because they will earn in one month what they would never earn in Nigeria in one year. Therefore, there is no way it can stop until Nigeria strengthens its economy.

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