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The Niger State government has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic helped the state save about N300 million that could have been spent on medical travels out of the state or country.
This was disclosed by the state’s Commissioner for Health and Hospital Services, Dr. Muhammad Makusidi while speaking during an address titled, ‘Medical Tourism; Matters Arising’ on Saturday.
According to the commissioner, the state had expended over N300 million on medical tourism in 2019, adding that in 2020, nobody in the state traveled outside Nigeria for medical tourism.
“In Niger State, COVID-19, for us in the health sector is 90 per cent a blessing because last year, none of us traveled outside Nigeria for medical treatment. This made us save a lot of resources which we, in turn, infused into reviving our medical system.”
The commissioner further described the increasing rate of medical tourism abroad as worrisome, saying that there is an argent need to stop the practice.
“In the Niger State Ministry of Health, we are trying to kill medical tourism abroad because if we do not kill it, it will kill the Ministry of Health. This is because the money taken for medical assistance abroad is taken from our overhead and other votes to the ministry.
“It is horrible and has put the health sector in an emergency state. While domestic medical tourism is also very costly, we are very concerned about international medical tourism because 90 per cent of people benefiting from international medical tourism are not using their resources but that of government and individuals”, he said.