On the last day of the 19th Akwaaba African travel market, the Ghanaian delegation led by Dr. Kobby Appiah Sayki, President of the African medical tourism council (AMTC) and CEO Of Britannia Medical Center, emphasized the importance of Ghana’s shift towards collaborative and sustainable medical tourism.
Dr. Sayki, a prominent advocate for this approach, highlighted the potential benefits not only for Ghana’s healthcare independence but also for creating a more equitable and mutually beneficial arrangement for patients and healthcare systems alike.
This strategic vision aims to strengthen Ghana’s position as an attractive, value-for-money option for medical tourists and promote investment in the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
In recent years, an estimated 60,000 West Africans have traveled abroad in search of healthcare, with a significant portion opting for treatment in India. This medical tourism industry amounts to a staggering $6 billion annually, with Nigeria contributing $1-2 billion. While approximately 80% of medical tourists seek treatment for orthopedic, cancer, cardiac, and kidney conditions, it raises the question: do all these individuals truly need to travel abroad for medical care?
Healthcare professionals and policymakers in Ghana are increasingly concerned about the drain on resources caused by the massive outflow of funds to foreign health systems. They argue that this trend not only diverts significant financial resources but also attracts private foreign investment, further enhancing foreign healthcare infrastructure at the expense of local systems. To address this issue, Ghana is proposing a more collaborative and sustainable approach to medical tourism.
The primary reasons why West Africans choose to go abroad for medical treatment vary. Some have complex conditions that demand specialized skills and technology not readily available in the subregion. Others travel abroad for personal preference, while a significant portion does so due to ease of access facilitated by government policies and agent assistance.
India’s successful development of its medical tourism industry serves as a case study. Apollo Hospital began operations in 1983, and by 2003, medical tourism had become a significant industry in India. The growth of the Indian healthcare system for medical tourism was driven by factors such as doctor referrals, aggressive marketing, policy direction, and modern facilities. Private investments, foreign support, and Indian government interest in revenue generation played pivotal roles in this development.
Critics argue that the current model of long-distance medical tourism is unsustainable, as only a small percentage of Nigeria’s sick population can afford it. Ghana, on the other hand, offers unique advantages as it can serve a larger population and presents a more cost-effective option.
Advocates for a collaborative model suggest that European countries accepting patients from Ghana should invest in the Ghanaian healthcare system. This investment could take the form of supporting Ghanaian doctors in areas of need, providing technical skills exchanges, and equipment exchanges. The aim is for outgoing medical tourism to yield dividends for Ghana, helping develop its healthcare infrastructure and reduce dependence on foreign systems.
Ghana is positioning itself as an attractive, value-for-money option for medical tourists, offering a more mutually beneficial relationship that provides options and competitiveness. This approach would also establish a robust advocacy support system for patients in need of redress.
Among Ghana’s top hospitals contributing to this endeavor are:
Jubail Fertility Hospital
Britannia Med Center
Bethel Dental Service
More information can be found at www.tophospitalsinghana.com.
Ghana’s call for a shift towards collaborative and sustainable medical tourism not only has the potential to boost its healthcare independence but also promises a more equitable and beneficial arrangement for patients and healthcare systems alike.