Isaac Adewole, minister of health, says President Muhammadu Buhari receives medical treatment abroad because Nigerians do not know how to handle information.
Adewole was reacting to the criticisms trailing the president’s medical trips abroad.
Speaking to THISDAY, Adewole said the president, as an individual, is entitled to his privacy.
Describing Nigeria as a strange country, he said Nigerians have no respect for people’s right to confidentiality.
He said the case of Yusuf, the president’s son who was involved in a motorbike accident, is an indication that the privacy of a patient could be easily compromised in the country.
“You have forgotten that as our president, he is also an individual. Unfortunately, we still, as a country, we cannot handle information,” Adewole said.
“The president’s son was operated; they said he was dead. You see, it is a strange country; and so, we do not respect people’s right to privacy and confidentiality. We also have no respect for doctor-patient relationship.
“The same person who went abroad was the same person who said, let my son be managed in Nigeria. I was at the centre; people said let the boy be flown abroad. The president said no. All he asked was, ‘Can they manage him in Nigeria?’ I said, yes, and he said, ‘Go ahead’”.
The minister further explained that Buhari’s frequent medical trips abroad do not mean he has abandoned the nation’s health sector.
“He is committed to improving the health sector, and working hard to make it something everybody would be proud of. But you know doing this would not happen overnight,” he said.
“So, let’s not over flog it. To me, it’s a non-issue. Like the upgrade we are doing for cancer, it has taken us almost one year because things have to be properly done. You can’t buy a radiotherapy machine if there is no proper assessment.
“So upgrading the health facility, he is committed to that. But it’s not going to happen immediately. And we are working hard to make sure that things are in proper shape.”
The minister had earlier said Buhari insisted that Yusuf should be treated in Nigeria, adding that he only went to Germany for rehabilitation.