by Denise Wang
Nigerians continue to travel beyond borders for healthcare options not offered at home. Nigerians are not the only individuals to engage in such practices, as growing numbers of individuals who live in countries without access to medical treatment and healthcare options are venturing to destinations such as Southeast Asia, which provides a growing number of healthcare providers in the fields of orthopedics, cardiac care, obesity and bariatric surgical options, weight loss management and general health and surgical care.
While the healthcare system in Nigeria provides adequate care for many of its citizens, political as well as economic instability in the country has driven the availability of health care away from many of its citizens. Specialty health services, treatments and procedures not available in Nigeria are available in destinations such as India, Thailand, Singapore, or in locations found in Turkey and Croatia.
International destinations and medical facilities located in Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the United States provide hope for Nigerians seeking treatment, affordable and quality healthcare, and resources that offer choices for up to date, state of the art medical technology that may increase quality of life, life expectancy, and preventive care for Nigerians.
Medical Tourism Offers Choice
The growth of medical tourism, the availability of Internet resources and information regarding accredited and certified facilities, physicians, surgeons and specialists in a wide range of medical fields provide Nigerians with choices in healthcare for the first time in decades. Nigerians, as with others, continually seek quality and affordable healthcare for all. Many Nigerians, especially those of middle and upper income classes, are traveling abroad for services that range from disease prevention and immunization to cardiac care, joint replacement, LASIK eye care and physical therapy options.
Treatment for chronic diseases, cancer treatment, and alternative medical care, which also includes dental and vision care specialties offer Nigerians access to medical checkups, preventive medicine, and the best in world-class patient care. Destinations in India are especially popular with Nigerians traveling abroad, with facilities in Chennai, Kerala, New Delhi, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Hyderabad offering everything from the basic dental care to surgery to Ayurvedic treatments and practices. Alternative medicine, general medicine, dentistry, detoxification, fertility, and orthopedic procedures and treatments, cancer care and cosmetic and plastic surgical treatments and procedures bring hope to millions of Nigerians looking for realistic healthcare options.
Growing Need For Medical Care In Nigeria
The past 25 years has seen a severe decline in highly trained medical specialists and sub- specialties within the medical infrastructure of Nigeria. Wait times are long, accessibility is often limited and prevents many Nigerians from receiving basic medical care. Nigerians seeking medical evaluation and treatment abroad in Europe and North America continue to grow, while a large number of them travel to locations such as India, most often because the environment within Nigeria continues to hamper and restrict growth of health care and medical facilities inside its borders.
According to Uzoma Ben Gbulie, MD from Washington, DC, nearly 30% of foreign healthcare providers in the United States are Nigerian, and growing numbers of Nigerian medical professionals choose to practice outside the country's borders. Delayed or poor medical treatment at home has propelled growing numbers of Nigerians from all age brackets and socio-economic backgrounds to seek safer and more effective medical care abroad for obstetrics and gynecology goal care, pediatric care, geriatric care and chronic disease treatment.
Until things change inside Nigeria, the number of Nigerians traveling abroad for health care can be expected to grow.