Nigeria: President Buhari Medical Trips Signal No End to Medical Tourism

Despite his pledge to halt medical tourism in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has sought medical assistance in the United Kingdom for the second time since he took office in May 2015. Nigerians spend more than USD1 billion a year on medical tourism, and Buhari’s recent trip to the UK for vacation and medical screening is grave testimony to the inadequacies of health care and facilities in Nigeria

When President Muhammadu Buhari swaggered onto the podium on 29 May 2015 to deliver his inauguration speech after winning the presidential election, a wave of optimism and hope rippled through the cheering crowd. With admirable messianic fervour, President Buhari promised to tackle insecurity, endemic corruption, waste, and fuel and power shortages head on.

Nigerians who watched the live broadcast of the inauguration ceremony, held at Eagle Square in the heart of Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, could not resist the temptation offered by this newfound hope. The 74-year-old leader, who was Nigeria’s military head from 1984 to 1985, also promised to address education and health challenges so Nigerians could have access to quality education and health care.

Nearly two years into his four-year tenure, President Buhari is struggling to keep to his promises, especially on improving health services for the people and putting an end to health tourism, which has bedevilled the country for a very long time. Since he took office in 2015, Mr Buhari himself has travelled abroad twice to receive medical treatment, a clear indictment of the health services offered in Nigeria.

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