REDUCING NIGERIA’S 400BILLION NAIRA ANNUAL MEDICAL TOURISM BILL: THE PRIMUS HOSPITAL EXAMPLE

REDUCING THE 400 BILLION NAIRA MEDICAL TOURISM BILL: PRIMUS
HOSPITAL EXAMPLE
It was a chance meeting. I had gone to the Primus International Super Specialty Hospital,
Karu, Abuja to make some enquiries and I saw one of the canteen attendants in tears. What
could have caused her tears, I wondered. Curiosity took the better part of me and I called to find out. She had an encounter with a lady whose upper and lower jaws were virtually stuck together. Yet she was able to eat meat. That sounded strange and despite my being averse to visiting hospital wards, I opted to find out what could have caused this.
Well, getting to meet the lady in question was not too easy. But I had my way. Immediately I
saw her, I knew hers was a special case. The chins had thinned out and the outlook was to
some extent, frightening. She made it easy for me by the way she smiled and from there I
could see her teeth were virtually stuck together.

I mean, you could see that the gums were not moving, and there was little or no space between the upper and the lower jaw.
How did this happen, I asked her managing to conceal my empathy as she smiled.
Read her story.
‘I had an accident in 2000. I fell from the staircase and landed on my chin. From there, I
realised that my jaws were no longer separate. I could no longer open my mouth at all. Tried
as I could, it was impossible. Days of crying and visiting hospitals led to my being operated
upon.

The doctor who did the operation cut parts of my teeth off, I was still growing then. I
was hoping that would bring relief. The relief I sought was not there. I continued in pain even
as I tried to bear it.
Sometimes last year, my mother who is based in Abuja made enquiries and we were to go to
India for an operation to help me so that I could live a normal life. I have been like this since
I was 9. You cannot imagine what it meant. Well, it was while we were preparing to go to
India that someone told my mother about this hospital. We came here and the surgeons told
us that there was nothing to it and that they would perform the operation. Meanwhile, I
almost forgot, before my mother started the arrangements for India, I was in serious pain as a result of which I was taken to an hospital in Kaduna where I was to be operated. After I was
prepared I met the Consultant who was to operate me. It was the same woman who cut my
teeth and did a shoddy job on me years back, leaving all these patches on my chin and yet there
was no solution. I was young then but I still remembered her face. I even know her name [
name withheld]. I refused. I told my mother, I would prefer to die in pains than to be operated
by the woman given what she did to my jaw and my teeth. This was the situation before I
came to this place’.
After the encounter, I couldn’t but praise her bravery. I asked questions, how did she manage
to eat despite the locked jaw? She told me that she had to find a way around that. It was that
question that drew out her encounter with the eatery attendant that I saw with tears in her
eyes.

Two days later, her operation was performed and it was successful. Today, she can laugh out
loud and do so many things she could not do for about nineteen years.
But this was just one of the many major cases of surgery which would have ended up in
foreign hospitals but were handled at Primus International Super Speciality Hospital in
Abuja.
You can easily forget that you are in Nigeria given the volume of foreign specialists who
attend to you at the Primus Hospital in Abuja. In virtually all the areas from surgery to physiotherapy, ENT, Ophthalmology, orthopaedics, spine surgery, etc there are specialists who are around to attend to patients twenty four hours a day.
It is on record that the Primus International Specialist Hospital in Karu, Abuja was the first
hospital where you could have spine surgery in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to others now
dabbling into this, the Primus Hospital had established itself as a place where anything that
has to do with spine could be handled easily.
The specialists are on ground, they do not need to send for or book dates, unlike many others
who claim to have the facility but rely on specialists from outside the country who have to be
flown in.
Some of the surgeries undertaken by the hospital are not common. Indeed, when the Health Minister visited the place months back, he was so impressed that one of the things he raised was the fact that inability to advertise had denied Nigerians of the knowledge of what hospitals in the country could do.
The Honourable Minister had observed that many of the ailments Nigerians go abroad for its treatment especially surgery could be better handled at the hospital and at a cheaper rate. But the Primus International Hospital might not be alone in this though it is undoubtedly a leader on many fields.
Indeed, there are other unsung hospitals in Nigeria both government-owned and more
especially, privately owned that offer services comparable to international standards.
For instance, the NISA Hospital in Abuja is well known as the country’s first and most
popular hospital for issues relating to conception. Sometimes last year when the President’s son had an accident that affected his head, it was another hospital that handled him and he was operated on, stabilised before being taken abroad.
The 41billion Naira Akwa Ibom Specialist Hospital is reputed to be one of the best around.
Some of the University College Hospitals around also offer high quality services that can
compare favourably with international standards
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari some weeks back said the inability of the
government to address various health challenges in the country has resulted in increasing
medical tourism in which the nation loses over N400 billion on annual bases.

Two days later, her operation was performed and it was successful. Today, she can laugh out
loud and do so many things she could not do for about nineteen years.
But this was just one of the many major cases of surgery which would have ended up in
foreign hospitals but were handled at Primus International Super Speciality Hospital in
Abuja.
You can easily forget that you are in Nigeria given the volume of foreign specialists who
attend to you at the Primus Hospital in Abuja. In virtually all the areas from surgery to
dermatology to physiotherapy, ENT, Ophthalmology, kidney transplant, orthopaedics, spine
surgery, etc there are specialists who are around to attend to patients twenty four hours a day.
It is on record that the Primus International Specialist Hospital in Karu, Abuja was the first
hospital where you could have spine surgery in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to others now
dabbling into this, the Primus Hospital had established itself as a place where anything that
has to do with spine could be handled easily.
The specialists are on ground, they do not need to send for or book dates, unlike many others
who claim to have the facility but rely on specialists from outside the country who have to be flown in.
Some of the surgeries undertaken by the hospital are not common. Indeed, when the a Health Minister, visited the place months back, he was so impressed that one of the things he raised was the fact that inability to advertise had denied Nigerians of the knowledge of what hospitals in the country could do.
The Honourable Minister had observed that many of the ailments Nigerians go abroad for its treatment especially surgery could be better handled at the hospital and at a cheaper rate. But the Primus International Hospital might not be alone in this though it is undoubtedly a leader on many fields.
Indeed, there are other unsung hospitals in Nigeria both government-owned and more
especially, privately owned that offer services comparable to international standards.
For instance, the NISA Hospital in Abuja is well known as the country’s first and most
popular hospital for issues relating to conception. Sometimes last year when the President’s son had an accident that affected his head, it was another hospital that handled him and he was operated on, stabilised before being taken abroad.
The 41billion Naira Akwa Ibom Specialist Hospital is reputed to be one of the best around.
Some of the University College Hospitals around also offer high quality services that can
compare favourably with international standards
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari some weeks back said the inability of the
government to address various health challenges in the country has resulted in increasing medical tourism in which the nation loses over N400 billion on annual bases.

Ultimately, the major challenge to ensuring that Nigerians patronise the hospitals in the
country that offer the same services if not better than the ones abroad, is the fact that
Nigerians do not know what they have. And like the Minister of Health stated during his visit to Primus Hospital, there is the need to take a second look at the law barring hospitals from advertising so that facilities available, specialists available in each hospital would be known.

With this information, those who want to travel abroad to seek succour for health issues would at least have the benefit of seeing what they are leaving behind back home, and if it is better and affordable, they may surely settle for the locally available facilities rather than those offered in foreign land.

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