From Toluwa Agboluaje, Ibadan
A medical doctor fro the University of Pennsylvania in the US, Dr Stephen Hunt from has said Nigerian leaders and other individuals spend $15billion annually on medical tourism abroad.
Hunt, who decried the development and urged the leaders to make Nigeria hub of medical advancement for the rest of African nations, disclosed this while addressing journalists at the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
Hunt disclosed that their radiotherapy intervention training brought to Nigeria is aimed at reducing the huge expenses made by Nigerians on medical treatment abroad.
Hunt, a physician from the US, had few days ago attended a Radiology conference at the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
He also said over 22,000 doctors who are Nigerians reside in the US and the UK alone, saying such was greater than the estimated 18,000 working in the country.
Hunt said that he and some physicians from the US were in Nigeria to start interventional radiotherapy training for Nigerian physicians to reduce the rate at which Nigerians travel abroad for medical treatment.
“We are in the Department of Radiology, UCH, and had a conference in UCH last week where there were physicians from the US so has to start interventional radiotherapy training.
“More than $15 billion is spent yearly by Nigerians to travel abroad for medical reasons. We can reduce that if people are trained here so they won’t have to spend a lot of money.
“When they travel, they are not just paying for the medical service, they are also paying for food, accommodation and flight. It won’t be that expensive if it can be treated in Nigeria,” he said.
Hunt said that the choice of Nigeria was as a result of the country’s leadership status across the African continent and because interventional radiotherapy was not practiced in the country.
“We chose Nigeria because Nigeria showed Leadership role. The have the largest economy and the largest population. They started ECOWAS and AU.
“I heard from my friends whom we study together abroad that interventional radiotherapy is not really practiced in Nigeria. I chose Nigeria because I have been called for lectures and conferences in Nigeria.
“There are Nigerians who start the training but want to come back, and other people who undergo this training such as whites, Indians and blacks know that Nigeria is the place to start,” he said.
He said that the training would start from UCH to other facilities in the country, West Africa and the continent as a whole.
According to him, “We doing a cell culture. We are growing patients cells from their tumor in an incubation so as to know what chemotherapy they will be sensitive to.
“It is called precision medicine. We are doing this in other to be able to treat cancer and other diseases.”
Hunt said that one of the major challenge was funding, saying they must raise and invest more money into the training.
“We have to raise and invest more money into the training and we still need money for supplies and equipment needed for the training
“We need to study the disease here because they can be unique. We need to study our traditional herbs so as to see how it can be used to treat cancer and other diseases”.
Hunt said that lot of physicians, nurses, technologist and doctors want to come for the training but they don’t have money for their flight, saying only few were able to raise money.