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South Africa minister blasts Buhari, Mugabe over health tourism

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President Muhammadu Buhari on arrival from London at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Saturday, August 19, 2017.
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President Muhammadu Buhari on arrival from London at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Saturday, August 19, 2017.

President Muhammadu Buhari on arrival from London at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Saturday, August 19, 2017.

A South African minister has criticised African leaders who seek medical treatment abroad.

Aaron Motsoaledi condemned “health tourism” while speaking in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe, who frequently receives treatment in Singapore, had left the meeting of health ministers when Dr Motsoaledi made the comments.

Mr Mugabe’s spokesman has said that the president’s doctor “is not only Zimbabwean, he is actually black… He is very, very, very black”.

George Charamba made those comments to Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper in May, insisting that President Mugabe was not turning his back on Zimbabwean medical help.

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Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos have also been criticised for seeking medical treatment abroad this year.

At this week’s conference Dr Motsoaledi said:

“We are the only continent that has its leaders seeking medical services outside the continent, outside our territory. We must be ashamed of that.”

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“This is called health tourism. We must promote our own,” he added.

Dr Motsoaledi also urged governments to increase funding to local facilities.

He has been praised by South Africans for using public hospitals instead of private facilities.

Buhari’s medical leave in 2017

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In February 2017, following what were described as “routine medical check-ups” in the UK, Buhari asked parliament to extend his medical leave to await test results. He spent 51 days in London.

Buhari again left Nigeria for a reported health check-up in London on 7 May 2017. This time he spent 104 days.

Mugabe’s medical leave in 2017

17 Jan: President Robert Mugabe leaves Zimbabwe on an official trip then, according to the Standard, takes a detour to Singapore for routine checks

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8 May: State media report that Mr Mugabe has left for Singapore on another routine medical check-up

9 July: Mr Mugabe leaves again for Singapore – a youth rally is postponed as a result and the main opposition accuse him of “ruling from a hospital bed”

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