Gyang Bere, Jos
Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, and Senator representing Plateau North, Istifanus Dung Gyang, has described medical tourism abroad by Nigeria’s elite as contributing to the neglect that has led to the collapse of the country’s healthcare system.
According to the senator, the healthcare system in Nigeria has collapsed as a result of the leadership failure of the country’s political elites who have neglected it because they can readily afford private healthcare in foreign countries.
The senator stated this at the weekend when he visited the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) on a familiarisation tour of federal establishments and institutions in Plateau North senatorial district.
“When Leaders who are charged with responsibility feel they have no need for public health systems because they can afford private healthcare at home or abroad, ordinary citizens bear the brunt,” Gyang said.
“The effective health systems abroad that are being patronised by Nigerian leaders only exist because they were developed and are consistently maintained through political commitment and visionary leadership qualities that are clearly lacking today in Nigeria.”
He condemned Nigeria’s political leaders who travel abroad for medical tourism, and said that the National Assembly will take practical steps to push for laws to curb the practice in the country.
The Plateau senator decried the present condition of JUTH which is saddled with the mandate of taking care of the North Central States, but has been reduced to a symbolic edifice due to political negligence.
“The reason for my visit is to see the areas that will add value to this foremost hospital in Plateau State; and also to legislate for additional funding to take care of facilities, equipment and develop the personnel of this health institution.”
“I am so concerned about the health sector in Nigeria, that is why in the floor of the Senate we were discussing about the primary healthcare and the collapse of healthcare delivery at that level which has now brought a lot of pressure not only to secondary but also tertiary level,” he said.
He added that because of the collapse of primary healthcare, the burden has shifted to JUTH and other tertiary health institutions.
Senator Gyang commended former President Olosegun Obasanjo for building the JUTH permanent site, also appreciating former state governor Senator Jonah Jang for constructing the road that links the Hospital to Jos, the Plateau State capital.
JUTH Chief Medical Director Professor Edmund Banwat, responding on the senator’s visit, said Gyang was the first senator from the state to have visited the Hospital.
He described Gyang as a great politician who has the passion and focus to transform Plateau North senatorial district.
“Let’s place on record that this is the first time we are having such kind of visits, a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria visiting this institution with a very large entourage that cut across party, ethnic groups and religious differences,” Prof. Banwat said
He indicated that JUTH is one of the great health institutions in Nigeria’s middle belt, serving 10 states in the region.
“We receive patients from ten different states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other patients from other states, with 150 specialists, 36 departments and over 2500 workforce,” he said.
Among the specialities of the hospital, according to the Chief Medical Director, are brain and ear surgeries
He appealed to the Senate, through Senator Gyang, to assist the hospital in establishing a trauma centre which will take care of challenges within the North Central zone.