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President Muhammadu Buhari on his way to London for a ten-day vacation. He is expected to see an ENT specialist before retruning to the country. PHOTO: STATE HOUSE

Buhari’s medical trip, a blot on Nigeria’s image – Dr. Enabulele

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By Dr. Osahon Enabulele  

I heard with shock and disappointment the statement issued on Sunday, June 5, 2016, by the Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to Mr. President, informing the general public that President Muhammadu Buhari will proceed on a 10-day medical vacation to London from Monday, June 6, 2016, during which period he is billed to see an E.N.T. specialist for a persistent ear infection, based on a recommendation for further evaluation said to have been advanced by Mr. President’s Personal Physician and an E.N.T. specialist in Abuja.

Even though the nature of the persistent ear infection/specific diagnosis was not stated in the Special Adviser’s press release, I wish to commend Mr. President for the medical disclosure (a departure from the past) and sincerely sympathise with him, especially at this critical stage of our country’s history and development, and wish him quick recovery.

However, I am very constrained to state that this foreign medical trip flies in the face of the Federal Government’s earlier declaration of her resolve to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of outward medical tourism, which as at the end of the year 2013 had led to a humongous capital flight of about $1billion dollars, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders (and their accompanying aides), whose foreign medical trips (most of which are unnecessary) were financed with tax payers’ resources.

At various times, one had advised Mr. President to make a clear public pronouncement on his resolve to show leadership by example with respect to the utilisation of the medical expertise and facilities that abound in Nigeria by him and other members of the Federal Executive Council, particularly in concrete expression of Section 46 of the National Health Act which seeks to address the abuse of tax payers’ resources through frivolous foreign medical travels embarked upon by political and public office holders.

Undoubtedly, this latest move by Mr. President at a time the Federal Government is said to be on a change mission and rebirth of national consciousness and commitment through a backward integration agenda, Mr. President has lost a golden opportunity to assert his change mantra through a clear demonstration of leadership by example, by staying back to receive medical treatment in Nigeria and thereby inspiring confidence in Nigeria’s health sector which currently boasts of medical experts that favourably compare with medical experts anywhere in the world, if not even better.

It is on record that most public and political office holders who seek foreign medical care abroad are handled by Nigerian trained doctors in foreign lands (particularly in the United Kingdom which has over 3000 Nigerian trained medical doctors, United States of America with over 5000 Nigerian trained medical doctors, among other foreign countries), most of whom left the shores of Nigeria on account of government’s perennial failure to address the various push and pull factors which have consistently driven this yearly brain drain phenomenon in Nigeria. Available records show that last year (2015) alone, 637 medical doctors emigrated due largely to poor working conditions and health facilities, insecurity, unpredictable and poor funding of Residency Training Programme, uncompetitive wages and job dissatisfaction.

Without prejudice to the expert recommendation of Mr. President’s Personal Physician and the ENT specialist said to have examined and treated Mr. President in Abuja, I consider it a national shame of immense proportions that Mr. President had to be recommended for foreign medical care/re-evaluation despite the presence of over 250 ENT specialists (and professors) in Nigeria, as well as a National Ear Centre located in Kaduna State.

If I were in their shoes I would have advised Mr. President to stay back in Nigeria and explore any of the following options: (1) urgently invite a consortium of Nigerian trained ENT specialists in Nigeria to Abuja to re-evaluate and treat Mr. President; or (2) if it is determined that the medical expertise is not available in Nigeria (and I doubt this), any identified Nigerian trained ENT specialist practising anywhere in the world should be invited to Abuja, for the sole purpose of re-evaluating and treating Mr. President; or (3) if it is a case where the health facilities/equipment are unavailable (and this is a possibility) then Mr. President should have used his current medical situation, though unfortunate, to commence the Federal Government’s plan to re-equip Nigerian hospitals with modern state-of-the art health facilities, by ordering for the needed medical equipment to enable the locally available Nigerian trained ENT specialists to attend to him, and thereafter use same facilities to attend to other Nigerians with similar conditions.

There are so many benefits that can accrue to Nigeria if Mr. President stays back in Nigeria to receive medical treatment and explores the above stated options. Indeed, it will be a win-win situation for Nigeria as Mr. President will not only get managed with the imported medical facilities and expertise (if indeed needed); he would save Nigeria (currently going through a socio-economic turmoil) the capital flight that would result from his planned foreign medical trip. It will also help to improve the state of healthcare facilities and medical practice in Nigeria (particularly through technology transfer).

I submitted myself for a highly skilled and successful ENT surgical intervention conducted in Nigeria in the month of April, 2016. As a trained medical specialist, I believe that those ENT specialists/medical experts (and many others in Nigeria) who handled my situation then are skilled enough, and with the right equipment in place can handle any complicated ENT problem in Nigeria.

The President should show committed leadership by urgently rethinking the planned foreign medical travel and exploring the suggested options of getting treated here in Nigeria.

Doing otherwise will send a strong negative signal to majority of toiling Nigerians who either have no means to seek healthcare services or daily indulge in catastrophic health expenditures, talk less of dreaming of travelling abroad for medical treatment.

• Dr. Enabulele, M.B; B.S, MHPM, FWACP is
Vice President, Commonwealth Medical Association.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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122 comments

  1. We had several blots in the pass, did you talk.?

  2. May almighty God give you all health
    Wishing you speed recovery

  3. Nigeria’s Buhari ‘broke promise to end medical tourism’ 7 June 2016 Africa A leading Nigerian doctor has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of reneging on a promise to end “medical tourism” by seeking treatment in the UK. Nigerians spent $1bn (£690m) on foreign medical trips in 2013, most of which was unnecessary, said Dr Osahon Enabulele. Nigerian politicians were mostly treated by Nigerian doctors in the UK, he added. Mr Buhari flew to London on Monday to be treated for an ear infection. It is unclear where the 73-year-old would be treated for what his office described as a “persistent” infection.

  4. Na waa for Nigeria. It is not easy to rule this country oo. The President’s good health or lack of it borders on national security. He may for security reasons, seek medical help abroad, away from the tricks and possible antics of the victim’s of the anti-corruption war. People should be reasonable with their comments.

  5. Joyce Eki James Abudu

    I ‘ve seen several occasions were doctors advise their patience relative to fly the person out of Nigeria for better treatment so why the noise now? Una wan use am do practical as una use my sister.

  6. Do we ever have any image worthy to be cherished?

  7. THE SAME NMA THAT TOOK BRIBE FROM GEJ IN AUG 2014 TO SUPPORT SACK OF RESIDENT DOCTORS IN THE COUNTRY! BUHARI HAS NOT GIVING THEM BRIBE! NMA MY FOOT!

  8. U ll go n com bac healthy cos many ppl whc u dead xpecially looters.
    =50cent song= “many men, many many men whc death upon me”

  9. Which image? Lwkm… All of a sudden we think it’s bad image to travel for medical, if you check this guy I can bet his children school abroad, even him goes abroad go all sort

    • This guy buhari said that no nigerian politician is allowed to go for medical checks abroad and thesame buhari broke his own law…. Is it not double standard? buhari’s three ministers are currently sick and two are abroad for medical chechs! Stop this hypocrisy pls.

  10. He shld hav resigned base on health ground

  11. We re going to experience another yaradua by God’s grace, ,

  12. Nigerian, just continue to pray for PMB.

  13. How many Drs accused Gej when he made several trips abroad on medical leave?

  14. All this allegation is baseless, how many former president had attended medical trip to London and US? If you are not partisan politician why you can’t tell the world that is a challenge for a big country like nigeria , a president to go for medical treatment. or bcos Buhari is from northern part that’s why every stupid were upen their valueless mouth to defined his trip as shame to nigeria.

  15. Death is pursueing this hausa president.

  16. I no no for una oooo i pray make PMB no go deaf after de ear surggery in London ooooo

  17. God knows the best, why worry?

  18. No. Life no get duplicate

  19. It’s very shameful. Nelson Mandela got all his treatments in South Africa. Will the British Prime Minister ever dream of coming to Nigeria for treatment? Yet you are shamelessly going to his country for treatment. If PDP could not build any standard hospital for 16years, why didn’t the incorruptible APC states build any in their states?

  20. The apostle of anti corruption should have lead by example!

  21. SO ALL THIS WHILE, 16YRS U NEVER BUILD A HOSPITAL? OH BABA GO SLOW….CHE!!! GEJ TILL 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. I dont seem to believe dat mr.president went for ear check up.Am suspecting he went for dialogue wit Niger Delta Avengers in uk accompanied wit GEJ and OBJ..

  23. Mr president u put a stop that noting should come down to Nigeria from another country ,, then why do u go out from ur own country for treatment .. Pls any body who know him should tell him to cum back my father is a great native doctor he will treat him just for free ,,,,

  24. Pray so that u will not end up like yara’dua

  25. Wen are u going to allow d sleeping dog to lye even though its Lye’s in pain?

  26. its obvious dat pmb is fighting corruption as he said,he stop importation of foreign products like foods and many more,he said we should encourage Nigeria economy,by him traveling abroad to treat himself is he encouraging Nigeria doctors?

  27. Go jare,how many people go b4 u

  28. ATTEMPT ALL QUESTIONS
    If GEJ is a constant, while APC is a
    variable, and if 1year have been
    used for blaming, with the aid of
    a diagram:
    1. Discuss the probability of APC
    blaming GEJ for the next 3years
    for:
    i. Dollar increase.
    ii. Fuel Price increase
    iii. Power Failure
    iv. Unemployment
    v. Fulani Herdsmen Killings
    2. If APC = All Promises Cancelled,
    where PMB is a constant, discuss
    the speed at which:
    i. N5k promise is cancelled
    ii. Feeding of school pupil is
    cancelled
    iii. NYSC allowance is reduced
    iv. Fuel pump prices are
    increased
    3. Define the term, ”Budget
    padding”.
    4. Mention 3 types of APC
    propaganda you know, and how
    they can be used in 21st century
    politics.
    5. Mention 5 IDP you know that
    feeds with N14000 everyday.
    6. Mention the next 3 countries
    PMB will travel and the disgrace
    he would receive.
    7. If PMB is silent when
    herdsmen kills people and buys
    jet fighter when Biafra is
    mentioned, what is the
    probability that PMB is not a
    terrorist?
    8. Write short notes on these
    mad phrases;
    i. masquerade dressing,
    ii. importation of grass
    iii. fantastically corrupt
    9. If x is chanji and y is lies./
    propaganda, solve the equation,
    2x + 5y = ?
    10. If you used to be corrupt, but
    now fantastically corrupt. Explain
    the effect of gravitational force
    on you.
    Good luck! Ur time starts now

  29. IT IS ONLY GOD THAT CAN KEEP PROMISE.

  30. After u go say u dey fight corruption… U are d corrupt urself.. Goin on various medical checks abroad under d disguise of goin for corruption meetings.. Worst president ever

  31. Big Man sickness has caught up with him!

  32. Pls, when health issue is genuine, pray for each other ‘s recovery. Don’t politicise it.

  33. Buhari is nt sick, it is old age. If he is old, do u think d ear wil b young?.

  34. Buhari as a president of the country deserved the right to seek for medical attention abroad. It is personal issue and people should look at it as such and allow peace to reign.

    • Muhammed lawal yes he has the right to seek medical help ” but we critisize him because of the comments he made when he crtisized the past administration that they embarked on medical trip abroad he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones

    • Buhari is double mouthed…

      If he stoped others from seeking medical treatment abroad.. why shud he be d one to break d law??

      Hypocrite

    • While he promise to end traveling out for medical attention zombies

    • Babatunde Jakande, Am really surprise about ur comment in which u called me “OLODO” Infact several reasonable people commented without insulting or abusing anybody but ur own was to insult somebody. You can see where u belonged now. Do you need a soothsayer to tell u ur position now? Pls always try to be patient enough inorder to give clean, constructive and objective comment that can befit ur status. U looked like a reasonable person in ur profile picture but ur comment was a motor park and hallow comment.

  35. The so called president band importation of food items to nigeria that we should value what we have but he can travel to londom for treatment what a wicked president

  36. it s better Nigeria Doctor and Engrs are just a pupils learning how to mention Letter A B C D in their profession

  37. Why did he spent billion on the Aso rock clinic then and still going Abroad 4 common ear treatment. What a nation!

  38. Pls bring him to Choosen @ ijesha pastor Muoka will pray and he will be healed we cured hiv and aids so ear infectn ma mai mai lol

  39. This is d syptom of what happen to pharoah when he refuse to let d Isrealites go, God hardend his heart, so Buhari ear problem was as a result of his ignorant to listen to advices. This is d beginning ooo

  40. APC bunch of old incompetent men who derive joy in lying,shameless old men

  41. Who knows what may happen to him or her d next 1minute?

  42. Buhari is a mistake ,,,,,liability

  43. may dis man never hear again in dis life oooh

  44. Hmmmmm,just pray fr him.

  45. Let say the truth when we see it…everybody

  46. Dis man should rest Nd enjoy his old age. Let a feat pason take over

  47. Has no business going abroard for treatment… Dis was one campaign promises of reducing forgein trips of govt officals for medical check up….so in d whole 36 states of dis country dere is discent hospital around…

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