Nigeria’s Buhari Takes Medical Trip Abroad Before Doctor Strike

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to London for a “routine” medical check-up two days before the country’s doctors go on strike over unpaid salaries.

Buhari, 78, is set to leave the country Tuesday after meeting the nation’s security chiefs, spokesman Femi Adesina said in an emailed statement Monday. The trip will last until the second week of April. It’s Buhari’s first medical trip abroad since the pandemic, which stripped much of Africa’s elite of the option of flying to the U.K., France or India to see a doctor.

While Buhari consults with doctors in London, millions in Africa’s most populous country will be left without access to medical treatment from April 1, when doctors will stop going to work. They’re complaining about the non-payment of medical interns for months and demanding an upward review of hazard allowances and Covid-19 care incentives, according to a statement issued by the National Association of Resident Doctors on March 29.

Nigerians have for decades suffered from an inadequately funded health-care system, squalid clinics and hospitals, and poorly paid and overworked health care workers who frequently move abroad for employment.

There are at least 8,178 medical doctors of Nigerian origin working in the U.K., according to data on the U.K. General Medical Council website, a more 50% increase from 2015. The exodus has worsened health care in a country that has one doctor for every 5,000 people, according to the Nigeria Medical Association.

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