Isaac Adewole, minister of health, says that being a government official doesn’t necessarily stop one from going abroad for medical treatment.
He said the relationship between doctors and patients forges a bond that is hard to break.
The minister was reacting to public grumblings that most government officials travel abroad for their medical treatment due to a decay in the Nigerian health sector.
President Muhammadu Buhari is away in the UK for his second medical vacation this year.
Aisha Alhassan, minister of women affairs, was reportedly in the US in 2016 for a leg surgery.
In an interview with PUNCH on Saturday, Adewole said such medical trips have to do more with the doctor/patient relationship.
He also said health issues are personal and as such, it behooves on the individual to decide on how to go about their treatment.
“What you need to know is that health is a personal issue and there is also a doctor/patient relationship,” he said.
“I had a difficulty at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. Some of my patients, up till today, don’t want to see any other doctor. They still call me. One of them even called to say he wanted to come and see me in Abuja, but I said no, let my colleagues look after you and so I referred him to two doctors.
“So, that is the issue about health. There is this bond between a doctor and a patient that is very hard to break. If I was seeing a doctor in the UK before becoming a minister, being a minister now does not necessarily mean I should detach myself from the doctor.
“I may want to continue with the doctor until it is over and then if I have subsequent complaints, I can call on a new physician in Nigeria. Sometimes, even your doctor in Nigeria can ask you to seek a second opinion if you are in doubt. It is allowed in medicine for you to have a second opinion.”
He also spoke about measures put in place by the government to prevent any outbreak of Ebola in the country.
“May I also inform you that Ebola importation will have to come through a border route. Ebola is not native to Nigeria, there must be an airport or a land port or a seaport,” he added.
“If we maintain vigilance at all those positions, it will not get in. This is because an importation of a disease will be picked up by our public health workers easily and these are federal workers who have been trained and stationed at the ports.”