EDITORIAL - African leaders put own health above citizens
2017-09-01 03:30:04 -

The people’s anger is rising across a number of African countries over the continued decisions of their leaders to seek medical treatment abroad.


In Nigeria, controversial entertainer Charley Boy was assaulted and his car damaged in the country’s capital Abuja for daring to protest against President Muhammadu Buhari’s overseas medical trip. At the time of the #ResumeOrResign protest, the 74-year-old leader had spent nearly 100 days undergoing treatment at a London hospital.


But President Buhari is not the record holder among ailing African leaders. Following a stroke in 2013, Algerian President Bouteflika, 80, has hardly been seen in his home country, as he essentially now lives in France. And despite continued EU travel sanctions on Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old and the world’s oldest serving non-monarchical leader spent over €42 million on travel in 2016, mainly for medical treatment – nearly twice the amount the country spent on local hospitals.


Elsewhere, outgoing Angolan President Dos Santos, 74, who is currently suffering from an unknown ailment, and Togolese president Talon of Benin, 59, who has prostate and digestive problems, have recently returned home from treatment in Spain and France respectively.


It is disheartening that these leaders are seeking the finest treatment money can buy at the expense of their own citizens, many of whom suffer due to lack of access to healthcare their leaders have failed to provide. These medical trips are also draining national resources, and impeding on their development, for entirely selfish reasons.


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