There are strong indications that President Muhammadu Buhari’s 10-day trip to London on Monday to treat an ear infection may be extended because he also has to attend to “a terrible cough that has persisted longer than the ear infection.”
This is just as the Vice President, Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, on that same Monday, accused Buhari of reneging on a promise to end “medical tourism” by seeking treatment in the UK.
Speaking on the trip, the presidential Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said:
“The buzz going round the town is that the President is ill, but ‘ill’ will be a misnomer, it should not be the right word to use.
“The President is going for a 10-day rest and during that period he will see specialists who will look at his ear because he has been treating that ear locally for some time.
“Nigerian physicians have looked at it and now they have said ‘you are going to UK, when you get there, let specialists look at the ear.’
“They have treated it locally so it is not a question of whether the President is ill. If he is ill, it presupposes that there are certain things that he cannot do.
“But till the very last minute that he is travelling, the President performed the duties and functions of his office as the President. So illness is not the issue.”
Also speaking, but in backlash, Enabulele expressed disappointment at the news of Buhari’s10-Day medical trip to London for an Ear, Nose and Throat, E.N.T, infection, saying, “it as a tragic blot on Nigeria’s collective professional and National image.”
He said: “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”.
“Undoubtedly, 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, amongst 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.”