Nigeria spends $1 billion on outbound medical tourism


The Sovereign Investment Authority of Nigeria recently told the World Economic Forum that 30,000 Nigerians spend $1 billion annually on medical tourism.

60% is spent in four major areas of healthcare: cardiology, orthopedic, renal dialysis issues and cancer.

This is a much lower figure than has appeared previously in the international media.

The plan now is to get overseas hospital groups to build new hospitals in Nigeria, and while this could benefit Indian hospital groups who have overseas building plans, it is not such good news for the Indian hospitals that Nigerians go to.

Recent high profile terrorist events may make overseas investors wary of long term investment in a country that despite being the richest in Africa, seems reluctant to spend that money on healthcare. The biggest problem is that Nigeria is not one cohesive place but a mix of rival tribes, rival states, rival policies and rival interests.

While it makes long-term sense for Nigeria to build new hospitals to stop better off locals spending healthcare cash overseas, expecting that development to come from overseas investors when the national government clearly has many problems in controlling what happens within the country, is perhaps a hope to far.

Even if Nigeria can alter the direction of medical tourism in the long run it now seems clear that outbound medical tourism for the rest of the decade is going to stay high and perhaps even grow. Any suggestions that Nigeria could become a major medical tourism destination anytime soon are require a significant leap of faith.



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