Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has decried the huge amount Nigerians spend annually seeking medical care outside the country.
The President expressed his concern at the inauguration of new participants of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
Buhari, who was represented by Simon Lalong, Governor of Plateau State, called on course participants to find solutions to problems and gaps in the institutional, legal and policy for financing universal healthcare.
He encouraged them to go on researches and study how other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas finance universal healthcare delivery, and make their findings beneficial to the country.
The President said his administration is determined to re-energise the health sector in other to reduce the rate of medical tourism, saying his government made available N55.1billion in 2018 to fund basic healthcare system in accordance with the National Health Act signed in 2014.
He said: “I am pleased to be at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Senior Executive Course 41, 2019 of the National Institute. When in 2018, I approved the theme of your study, Funding Universal Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria, the decision was borne out of the sincere desire of my administration to tackle the challenges of health sector funding in Nigeria.
“The essence of this programme is to ensure that quality basic healthcare services are delivered to the majority of Nigerians across the country irrespective of their locations. Early in 2018, the government provided N55.1billion, which is the 1 per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund, to cater for the Basic Healthcare Fund, provided for in the National Health Act.
“Government has shown strong commitment in the revitalization of the health sector. These efforts notwithstanding, our health sector is still characterized by low response to public health emergencies, inability to combat outbreak of deadly diseases and mass migration of medical personnel out of the country.
“This has resulted in increasing medical tourism by Nigerians in which Nigeria loses over N400billion on an annual basis. Thus, I consider the theme for 2019 very apt, timely and important because the primary purpose of governance is to ensure the security and well-being of the citizens including health security.”
Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, delivered the inaugural lecture on health, while Justice Yakubu Dakwak, Chief Judge of Plateau State, administered the oath of office on the 66-course participants.