President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to London, United Kingdom, on Tuesday for a medical check-up.

Femi Adesina, presidential spokesperson, said the trip is strictly “routine”.

“President Muhammadu Buhari proceeds to London, the United Kingdom, Tuesday March 30, 2021, for a routine medical check-up,” Adesina said in the statement.

Buhari is expected back in the country in the second week of April.

FREQUENT TRIPS TO THE UK FOR MEDICAL REASONS

There have been controversies surrounding the health of the president since he assumed office in 2015 but the presidency has continued to dismiss the allegations that the president is unhealthy and unfit to rule the country.

In 2016, when Buhari embarked on a 10-day vacation to the UK, the presidency said while in London, the president would seek medical attention for “persistent ear infection”.

“President Muhammadu Buhari will take 10 days off and travel to London on Monday June 6th, to rest,” Adesina had said in a statement.

“During the holiday, he will see an E.N.T. specialist for a persistent ear infection.

“The President was examined by his personal physician and an E.N.T Specialist in Abuja and was treated. Both Nigerian doctors recommended further evaluation purely as a precaution.”

Also, in 2017, Buhari spent over 150 days in the UK, treating an undisclosed ailment. He also returned to the UK for four days in May 2018 to see his doctor.

The president has also made several trips to the UK on ”private visits” believed to be for medical reasons.

READINESS TO UPGRADE NIGERIA’S HEALTH SECTOR OR LIP-SERVICE?

However, in August 2019, the president said the country loses about N400 billion to medical tourism annually.

Buhari said the country was losing so much to medical tourism because of the country’s health sector’s “inability to combat outbreak of deadly diseases and mass migration of medical personnel out of the country”.

“Government has shown strong commitment in the revitalisation of the health sector,” he had said.

“These efforts notwithstanding, our health sector is still characterised by low response to the public health emergencies, inability to combat outbreak of deadly diseases and mass migration of medical personnel out of the country.

“This has resulted in increasing medical tourism by Nigerians in which Nigeria loses N400 billion on annual basis.”

The president would later say frequent medical trips abroad must stop because they are not beneficial to the country.

“Nigerians have suffered so much going abroad for medical treatment. This is not good for us and it must stop because we can’t afford it again,” Buhari said in January 2020.

Aisha Buhari, wife of the president, also asked healthcare providers to take advantage of the federal government’s N100 billion credit support for the sector.

Aisha, who spoke after a medical trip to Dubai, said there was an urgent need to develop the health sector in order to reduce medical tourism.

She was flown to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for medical treatment during the Sallah break.

“I recall hosting the private healthcare Providers earlier in the year and we had a very productive engagement where the issue of building the capacity of Nigeria health sector was the major focus, and funding was discovered to be the major challenge,” she had said.

“I, therefore, call on the healthcare providers to take the advantage of the Federal Government’s initiative through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines for the operation of NGN100 Billion Credit Support for the Healthcare Sector as was released recently contained in a circular dated March 25, 2020 to the Commercial Banks.

“This will no doubt help in building and expanding the capacity of the Nigerian health sector and ultimately reduce medical trips and tourism outside the Country.”

The senate committee on federal character and intergovernmental affairs, also in a bid to stop medical tourism, asked state house officials to stop Buhari from going on medical trips abroad.

Danjuma Laah, senator representing Kaduna south and the panel chairman, had said the president must be first treated in Nigeria before he is taken out of the country.

Laah was commenting on the N19 billion that was budgeted for the state house in the 2021 budget.

Of that amount, N1.3 billion was proposed for the statehouse clinic.

Tijjani Umar, the statehouse permanent secretary, had appeared before the senate to defend the budget.

“Our president is not a man to be taken out anytime or anything that happens to him on sickness matter,” Laah had said.

“He must attend our clinic here and we must make sure that we equip our hospital to the best of our ability so that any emergency will be first taken care her before flying him out if the need arises.”