, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 3 – Private practitioners in the health sector are urging the government to identify medical tourism as a national industry, viewing it as a rapidly growing practice to generate revenue.
Pathway International Chief Executive Officer Simon Karo says having the country as a preferred health and medical destination is an avenue to boost tourism by welcoming people from around the world seeking remedy for a range of medical needs which may include both critical health services as well as cosmetic and remedial care.
“This has been a global phenomenon that has been there for years, it is only now that we are beginning to coin and phrase it. It is a growing field and I see it been the key pillar especially in vision 2030 while other traditional tourism suffers unfortunately. Though we can do a lot more to be the medical hub of the region,” he said.
“The government should assist the private sector to help build medical travel into the country by faster processing of patients into the country and also help us build relations not only with the public hospitals but also private hospitals. About 80 percent of the revenue that the medical tourists would spend automatically goes to the hospitals. Both the government and the hospitals need to open up to these benefits of medical travel especially inbound medical travel which will generate more income to the economy.”
Karo says the government should look into the areas of medical charges and hospitalisation costs as well as equipped and well-staffed hospitals as a way of wooing more medical tourists.
“Most private hospitals abroad offer accommodation ranging from comfortable to luxurious, including private rooms and suites. Meals are included and rates vary depending on the level of service required as some establishment offer personal butlers or full-time private nurses. Sleep-in facilities can also be easily provided for travelling companions. All avenues we should consider. One thing we should not forget is that these patients have the opportunity to enjoy sightseeing and other tourist activities during their recuperation and convalescence,” he explained.
He says despite the fact that medical tourism is preferred in developing countries where the expense of medical care is less costly, most patients consider treatments abroad.
Salvyia Rukungu a patient who was treated for a brain tumour says cost of medical treatment in the country is one of the reasons why she and her family sought treatment elsewhere.
“I did not know where to begin when planning my medical trip, my procedure was very expensive in the country and I did not find doctors who were knowledgeable on the treatment, so we decided to go elsewhere with better doctors and the latest technology. My family and I are truly grateful my procedure was very successful. I believe the government should put in more effort to ensure that medical procedures are available as well as doctors,” she said.