The Pfizer-established research institute, Kano Independent Research Centre Trust (KIRCT) has lamented the rate of medical tourism which costs Nigeria over $1.5 billion annually.
The head of the center, Prof. Jamilu Ismail, disclosed this during the opening ceremony of Kilimanjaro Hospital, yesterday, in Kano, reports ThisDay.
Ismail, decried the current brain drain in the country in which specialists and medical personnel leave the country in search of greener pastures due to a lack of facilities.
He said as part of efforts to curb medical tourism and brain drain in Nigeria, the center had opened a global standard hospital for the treatment of diseases of the heart and kidney as well as cancer in Kano.
He added that if such facilities were provided in the country it would discourage Nigerians who go on medical tourism seeking treatment for kidney, cancer and heart disease.
“Currently, medical tourism is a big business and Nigeria is losing a lot to medical tourism. Some studies have shown that Nigerians spend between $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually on medical tourism, especially for heart diseases, kidney diseases, cancer, and other diseases as well.
“So, because of that, we have challenges in our hospital settings, maybe due to lack of equipment, and currently we are also having an issue where a lot of our specialists and doctors are leaving the country.
“Because of that, we felt it an opportunity that if we can provide these services we can curtail that medical tourism.
“Instead of people leaving and going to other countries, they have to look for visas, pay for tickets, pay for accommodation elsewhere, you can come comfortably here within the vicinity of your immediate family and culture and receive the needed medical care. You will also receive good quality services.
“We are doing it in phases, in the first year we are going to provide the general services of the highest quality. Then in the second year, we are going to start the high-end services like treatment for heart diseases, kidney diseases, and other high-end medical and surgical problems.
“Perhaps in the next two years we should be able to compete favorably with other countries that are providing healthcare at a particular quality level,” he stated.