The presidents of Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe, Benin and Algeria all have one thing in frequent – an obvious lack of religion within the well being programs at residence.
When it comes to time spent overseas getting medical assist, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, 74, is the primary amongst equals, however previously yr all these heads of state have travelled abroad for well being causes.
In lots of circumstances they’re forsaking poorly funded well being companies, which most of their residents should depend on.
In 2010, the common quantity spent on well being in African international locations per individual was $135 (£100) in comparison with $three,150 in high-income international locations, the UN’s World Health Organization stated.
In Zimbabwe, for instance, state-run hospitals and clinics usually run out of fundamental medicines like painkillers and antibiotics, in accordance with well being watchdog Citizens Health Watch.
It says that the general public well being care system “continues to deteriorate at alarming ranges” with lack of cash being the principle drawback.
As for Nigeria, the general public well being system is “horrible” due to poor funding, says BBC Abuja editor Naziru Mikailu.
A medical insurance scheme for presidency staff and a few non-public staff has given some folks entry to personal medication, however most individuals should depend on government-funded companies.
In each international locations, good non-public healthcare is on the market to these with cash however in some circumstances there’s a feeling that issues are higher overseas.
The Nigerian president has spent greater than 4 months in London this yr getting therapy for an undisclosed sickness, inflicting appreciable disquiet at residence. Not like one among his predecessors, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who went to Saudi Arabia to see a health care provider, Mr Buhari did go away his deputy in cost, however this has not dampened the criticism.
Buhari’s unhealthy begin to 2017
19 January: Leaves for UK on “medical trip”
5 February: Asks parliament to increase medical go away
10 March: Returns residence however doesn’t resume work instantly
7 Could: Travels to UK for additional therapy
6 June: Aisha Buhari says his is “recuperating quick”
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, in energy since 1980, has additionally been criticised by his political opponents for working the nation “from his hospital mattress” after his third medical journey to Singapore this yr.
The Angolan authorities revealed in Could that Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been president for the final 38 years, had travelled to Spain for well being causes. However as within the Nigerian case, the federal government was not forthcoming about the issue.
Evaristo Da Luz, spokesperson for the opposition Casa-CE, stated that the journey “proves the incompetence of his authorities in place for 4 many years and reveals the precarious nature of the well being service”.
‘Very, very black’
The ill-health of Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 80, has been recognized for a very long time.
He suffered a stroke in 2013, was seen going to vote in a wheelchair in 2014 and later within the yr travelled to a hospital in France. He was again there final November for one among what the federal government calls “periodic” medical checks, the AFP information company stories.
The Benin authorities has been extra forthcoming in regards to the motive for the comparatively youthful President Patrice Talon, 59, to journey to France in June. He went for 2 operations, one on his prostate and one on his digestive system, the federal government stated.
However what’s the attraction of looking for medical consideration elsewhere?
Unsurprisingly, no presidential spokesman has come out to say that it’s as a result of the well being service on the whole is best abroad.
Mr Mugabe’s spokesman, although, was delicate to criticism about his boss’s frequent journeys to Singapore, insisting in Could that he was not turning his again on Zimbabwean medical assist.
George Charamba was quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper as saying that the president’s physician “just isn’t solely Zimbabwean, he’s truly black… He’s very, very, very black”.
The one concern was that the issue Mr Mugabe had together with his eyes may solely be handled exterior Zimbabwe, because it needed to do with “the extent of sophistication of medical abilities”.
It was this medical drawback that meant Mr Mugabe needed to typically relaxation his eyes throughout conferences, giving the impression that he was sleeping, the spokesman stated.
The difficulty with these journeys overseas just isn’t solely the implied criticism of the medics at residence, however that in addition they serve to undermine the well being system, main Nigerian physician Osahon Enabulele argues.
He calls the phenomenon “medical tourism” and says that the instance set by political leaders prices international locations tens of millions of .
In 2013 he estimated that Nigerians have been spending $1bn (£770m) overseas on medical therapy and reckons that determine may have doubled by now.
By comparability, the federal government’s health budget for 2016 got here to $800m.
Dr Enabulele, who’s vice-president of the Commonwealth Medical Affiliation, says that the cash taken out of Nigeria could possibly be invested within the well being system at residence.
“The entire ambition to have state-of-the-art services will stay a mirage if folks preserve going overseas for medical causes.”
On high of that, he says, high Nigerian docs are then enticed overseas searching for the perfect situations, exacerbating the state of affairs.
Dr Enabulele provides that whereas he needs the president effectively, he thinks that the therapy he wants could possibly be discovered at residence.
Wanting on the massive image, underfunding of well being does appear to be an issue.
Additionally, political leaders could not have the motivation to enhance well being companies in the event that they themselves can afford to go elsewhere.
Maybe they may take the instance of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.
In January, he had what the official information company described as “an exploratory cardiac catheterisation” at a hospital within the capital, Khartoum.
It was, nevertheless, a personal hospital, not a state one.