Health Tourism and President Buhari

On January 19, the President of Nigeria left his country to receive medical treatment in Great Britain. After 51 days he finally came back home. Omowale Muhammadu Buhari.

Although details about his health have not yet been disclosed, the fact that he spent almost two months abroad worried many Nigerian citizens and angered others.

How is it still possible that in 2017 African presidents go to their former coloniser to be treated? Knowing how many Nigerian natives there are in the UK, Buhari was probably (and ironically) taken care of by a British-Nigerian doctor.

If Buhari, Mugabe, Keita and others invested in medical schools and built hospitals, instead of buying private jets to fly to Europe or the US, not only would they make health care accessible to the people they're supposed to serve, they would also reduce unemployment.

This is another symptom of neo-colonialism. First of all, Africans tend to believe that Western medicine is more developed and modern than so-called traditional African medicine. There are a few problems with this belief:

  1. The notion of "developed" and "modern". These terms are used in a Western context. Today's European medicine is more developed than that of the past
  2. The notion of traditional. When we hear this word we often oppose it to modernity. Tradition can be modern and it only means that something has been passed down from generation to generation. For some European countries a particular way to cure a disease can be deemed traditional
  3. African medicine has worked for Africans for centuries. It is not a primitive way to heal oneself, quite the opposite. It is a sophisticated and completely natural way to cure diseases. What we call "Western medicine" was heavily influenced by African (and Asian) medicine.

In order to make change, the people must demand accountability and tangible work from their presidents. After all we live in democratic nations and the power belongs to us.