Few years ago, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari was in the United Kingdom, Angola’s Eduardo Dos Santos was in Spain, Benin’s Patrice Talon was in Paris and Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe flew often to Singapore.
Ordinarily one would think these leaders fly out to participate in international engagements or for official visits but that was not the case in respect of those mentioned above. All four left home to seek medical treatment abroad.
It has brought up the subject of medical tourism by these leaders at a time healthcare systems back home are nothing to write home about.
Latest case of Muhammadu Buhari
This week, Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari left Abuja for London in what the presidency described as “routine medical check-up.”
This is not the first time Buhari has sought medical treatment and or attention abroad. The last known infection he was suffering from was ear infection disclosed by the presidency in 2016.
He has since been in London for over three months in 2018 seeking treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune took over from ailing Abdul Aziz Bouteflika but soon after coming in, he also rolled out his ailment portfolio.
He was recently transferred to Germany for a “thorough medical examination,” the presidency said, a day after he was admitted to a military hospital in the capital Algiers.
The presidency said that the travel came on recommendation from his medical staff, but did not give details on his health condition or which hospital in Germany he would be admitted.
Tebboune had gone into “voluntary quarantine” after several of his aides showed symptoms of the novel coronavirus but it was not made public whether or not he had tested positive for the virus.
Ali Bongo’s Morocco medical trips
Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba suffered a stroke for which he was flown out of the country to Morocco to seek for medical attention. This was in late 2018.
He was forced to return in February 2019 when a group of soldiers attempted to seize power. He conducted a cabinet reshuffle and was back in Morocco to recuperate from the condition.
In June 2019, he gave his first public speech, which came more than two months after his return to the country after a total of five-months absence in Morocco.
In Ivory Coast, two Prime Ministers died in under a year after receiving medical treatment abroad.
Hamed Bakayoko, the most recent victim died of cancer in Germany on March 10 even though he had originally been flown to Paris for medical treatment.
Months earlier, Bakayoko had succeeded Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who died in July after returning from a trip to Paris for treatment of a heart condition.
Zimbabwe VP’s China trips
Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has in the last few years been flown to China for medical treatment.
A case in point being in 2019 when a presidential spokesman confirmed that the health problems, he was seeking attention for, had kept Chiwenga away from work for more than two months.
The 62-year-old former general led a coup against Robert Mugabe in 2017 and was subsequently appointed one of the two deputies to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chiwenga, who has previously received treatment in India, was in a hospital in South Africa before being taken to China, presidential spokesman George Charamba said in a statement.
Past instances of African leaders seeking medical treatment abroad
Dos Santos’ Spain treatment
Back in 2017, oil-rich Angola for the first time in a long while officially confirmed that then president, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, was in Spain to seek medical treatment in May that year.
Despite leaving the country in early May, it was not until May 29, that the foreign minister confirmed the news after opposition parties heaped pressure on the government to disclose the location of the country’s longest serving leader till date.
Zimbabwe’s Mugabe and routine checkups in Singapore
In Zimbabwe, the continent’s oldest leader at the time, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was occasionally flown out to Singapore to seek medical attention. The trips continued even after he was forced out of office in 2017.
Benin’s Talon and the Paris surgeries
The presidency in 2017 opened up about President Talon’s health condition disclosing that the then 59-year-old underwent two successful surgical operations during a visit to Paris.
Zambian president Edgar Lungu sought medical treatment in South Africa
Ousted Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir had heart operation in Khartoum
Ghana’s vice president Mahamudu Bawumia also sought medical treatment in the UK