Politics: How Africa's presidents are neglecting the poor healthcare system to seek medical help abroad
Medical tourism for the influential
Africa’s presidents keep going abroad for medical treatment rather than fixing health care at home.
Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari is in the United Kingdom, Angola’s Eduardo Dos Santos was in Spain, Benin’s Patrice Talon just returned from Paris and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe frequents Singapore.
74-year-old Muhammadu Buhari returned home in March 2017 after spending seven weeks on sick leave in the UK for an undisclosed ailment. He left Abuja on January 19 after informing the National Assembly. Not so long ago his first picture after he left his country for about six months surfaced on the internet.
Buhari 's recent absence has been raising fears and speculation about his ability to run the country.
The Federal Government of Nigeria announced that it would not provide funds to any government official to travel abroad for medical treatment unless the case could be handled in Nigeria.
Despite a well-funded presidential clinic for the president, it appears Buhari does not even trust local hospitals with his health.
Famously, in September 2015, Godswill Akpabio, then governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom state, went abroad for treatment following a car crash just four months after he commissioned a $95 million hospital in his state.
Dos Santos’ Spanish treatment
In May 2017 the Oil-rich Angola for the first time in a long while officially confirmed that their longtime president, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, was in Spain to seek medical treatment.
Despite leaving the country in early May, it was not until May 29, that the foreign minister confirmed the news after opposition parties heaped pressure on the government to disclose the location of the man who has led Angola since 1979. Dos Santos steps down from power after 38-years in charge.
Benin’s Talon and the Paris surgeries
Earlier in the month of June, Patrice Talon, president of the Republic of Benin, admitted to undergoing two surgeries during a visit to Paris.
The presidency has opened up about his condition disclosing that the 59-year-old underwent two successful surgical operations during his recent visit to Paris.
According to a statement released on June 19, 2017, one procedure was due to doctors finding a lesion in his prostate while the second operation was on his digestive system.
Zimbabwe’s Mugabe and routine check-ups in Singapore
Singapore has been Robert Gabriel Mugabe's regular destination for medical tourism. It is on record that the old president has visited that country twice this year all for medical attention.
According to the government, the 93-year-old suffers from eye cataract disputing the opposition claims that Mugabe is afflicted by cancer.
Instead of fixing the crisis in Zimbabwe's health care, he rather prefers flying out to seek medical attention.
At a time when he was flying out to seek treatment, major hospitals in the country were in crisis.
Some had resorted to turning away non-emergency cases, at a point doctors had embarked on strikes.
Other facilities had announced the suspension of surgeries citing the unavailability of medicines.
Over the last decade, six out of 12 sitting African leaders have passed away while seeking treatment abroad.
Although African leaders make promises about improving local health care while seeking office, they continue to make international appointments with medics to address their sick conditions.
These leaders channel substantial state resources to hospitals abroad rather than plug local health care gaps.