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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nigerian-American Foundation moves to curb medical tourism


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Dr. Oparaugo Udebiuwa (left); Secretary, Board of Trustees, Nigerian-American Medical Foundation, Dr. Adeyinka Shoroye; Dr. Christopher Kolade; Prof. Joe Sodipo; Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex Ibru; former Minister of Health, Prof. Adenike Grange; former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; Medical Director, George’s Memorial Medical Centre, Dr. Faye Iketubosin; and Godwin Ozemoje at the third annual meeting of the Board of Trustees with the Advisory Board of the Foundation in Lagos…yesterday PHOTO: OSENI YUSUF
To establish telemedicine centre in Lagos 
Nigerian-born doctors at home and in the Diaspora under the aegis of the Nigerian-American Medical Foundation (NAMF) have developed a blueprint on how to curb trip by Nigerians to other countries for medical treatment.
NAMFI is a non-profit organization incorporated in Nigeria and United States of America. It comprises of visiting international physicians, mostly from the American diaspora.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of NAMF and former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke; Secretary of the Board, Dr. Adeyinka Shoroye; a member and former Minister of Health, Prof. Adenike Grange; and another member and Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex Ibru, yesterday, after a meeting in Lagos, said they had assembled medical doctors from home and abroad in about 60 sub- specialties with the competence to address all medical conditions.

The Foundation also said it had set June 2016 timeline to establish an office with a telemedicine centre and online facilities. It also has a plan to build mega specialist hospitals in the next ten years.
Duke told The Guardian: “The thrust of it all is to provide a very specialist, medical facility that anchors with not only Nigerians in the diaspora but medical experts, Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike, around the world to stem the tide of medical tourism to other parts of the world and provide affordable specialist healthcare to Nigerians.
We are contemplating setting up an online medical facility in Ikoyi where we will practice what is called ‘tele-medicine’, which is using, in consultation, experts from different parts of the world. We are able to see patients from that facility, diagnose their challenges and proffer course of treatment.
“Absolutely, in the next couple of months, we intend to set up an ‘interface facility’ where the patient goes and uses telemedicine and is able to interface with the doctors abroad and all that. Then, the long-term bill is to have medical facility that incorporates all these 60 sub-specialists, there are areas that we are looking at, the paediatrics and all that. But we are starting small, so between now and June, we will be setting up the facility in Ikoyi where the interface will start.”
Grange said: “We are sharing a vision, and that is to see that we establish a simple place to give medical services to those who need them and at an affordable cost. And these services have to do more with specialties and sub-specialties. As you know, there is the primary care and there are the specialties. We feel that a lot of people go abroad for specialist services. Rather than watch this continue, we will like to bring the specialists in to give them the services.
“We are at the foundation right now but we want to really make sure we lay a good foundation. It is like an office type of service delivery to start with, and gradually evolving into hospital model.”
Ibru said: “I am quite honoured to be on the advisory board. This dream and mission are something that is welcomed to all of us because a lot of our medical practitioners who studied here and left for the United Kingdom (UK) or America feel that there is the need for something to be done to help the health sector in Nigeria. That is what it is all about, to bring in experts from abroad even if it is just on consultancy basis, for a start, but eventually any patient that is attended to will receive world standard treatment, that’s the whole idea.”
Shoroye said the purpose of the gathering was to address the concerns over medical tourism in the country. “Nigeria has a huge advantage of human capital which it can capitalize on, with special focus on the people in the diaspora, to develop its health sector to enviable standards.”