Africa and medical Tourism: Lessons from countries outside Africa
According to the Journal of Tourism & Hospitality, tourism is "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes". Tourism is commonly associated with international travel as well as refers to travel to another place within the same country (Journal of Tourism & Hospitality). Medical tourism is one purpose why people travel, it is a reality and a worldwide market for international patient care at approximately $40 billion (Kelly Gooch. 2016). Traveling abroad to access medical treatment is increasing with countries like U.K. providing large numbers of exported patients (Hanefeld J, Horsfall D, Lunt N, Smith R 2013). Medical tourism comes in different forms ranging from skilled providers sharing skills and services during medical treatment safaris/camps, concierge services, affordable healthcare options in the global market to beneficiaries traveling from their home countries to other countries where they can get services. There are other reasons why medical tourism is booming and these are: avoiding long waiting lists; shifting priorities for healthcare; tightened eligibility criteria; financially empowered individuals making decisions to seek services; competitive quality and prices of health care in some countries being pocket friendly; low air fares and hotel stay fees; increased number of immigrants who are skilled in health care provision providing services in home countries; alternative medicine other than western medicine; partnerships between teaching hospitals and establishing green field ventures; and cutting edge care (Reenita Das).
Dallol Salt Lakes, Ethiopia, Africa
Africa, you can learn from this scenario: medical tourism is a net importer/ exporter of patients in really big numbers. In U.S. alone in 2007, an estimated 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care; the number is expected to increase to 6 million by the end of this year. It is increasingly becoming apparent that there are affordable healthcare options in the global market outside of U.S. with pocket-friendly costs. Most surgeries cost 50% to 90% less than the average cost of the same surgery at a U.S. hospital, e.g., stent placement for iliac artery stenosis, estimated bill: at approximately $35,000 in USA can cost $18,000 in Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. There are reasons why cost are much less at overseas hospitals, as compared with U.S. and these include: lower wages for providers; less expensive medical devices and pharmaceutical products; less involvement by third-party payers; and lower malpractice premium. The annual liability insurance premium for a surgeon in India is $4,000; the average cost of a New York City surgeon’s liability insurance premium is $100,000 (Rajiv N. Thakkar. 2010).
Africa tap into social media and showcase the good side of the hot springs, the herbal medicines and the fact that a tropical/equatorial climate is medicinal. Showcase places like Dallol Salt Lakes in Ethiopia or Buranga Hot Springs (Geysers of Africa). You are missing out! Social media is playing an important role as an advertisement platform and this makes it possible for beneficiaries to make comparisons in nature, quality, access and prices of health care services (Zheng Xianga & Ulrike Gretzel. 2010). Advisories from the U.S. embassies, missions , media coverage as well as presence of U. S. military inform destination risk perception (Grzegorz Kapuścińskia & Barry Richards. 2016). It is increasingly easier for Americans to travel around the world for life-changing procedures due to a powerful dollar at the exchange rate, the fact that it has become safer, more cost-effective and appealing for Americans than ever (Kevin Gray. 2013).
Well, at the same time Africa, get your act together as far as organization goes. If you will want to be number one in the medical tourism market (yes you can), copy from say, the U.S. Talking about medical tourism without talking about how health care evolved into a quality service in say, the U.S. would be saying half the story. It is now a lifestyle and experiential activity(Constantine Constantinides. 2016). Aspects to talk about include the motivations put in place by employees for employers to stay longer at given jobs while at the same time they enjoy a quality life has in turn impacted on advances in the health care field. This as ensured medical and health services access by large employers through being self-insured; ensuring health benefit mandates are met; provision of benefits; provision of incentives in form of perks; and providing other forms of wage. A motivated employee is able to pay for health services. This kind of money invested in say, health care from services to infrastructure has made developed countries establish quality health care services. The technological advancement; economic growth; new market innovations; demand for services; and continued trainings and skills development in these countries have in turn improved technology; provided an understanding of demographics; and enabled the promotion of lifestyles that in turn protect people from risky health outcomes. Market conditions or regulations have made it possible for continued quality assurance. This is possible because of the specialized medical care provision; licensure laws; Intellectual property law; expansion/reduction of health government subsidized health care/insurance; and product safety, law or rules.
So, medical tourism is a sustainable phenomenon and not simply a passing fad. Medical Tourism affects healthcare in developed countries (e.g., United States, England, and Canada), developing or underdeveloped countries in form of: established health care markets providing low cost quality concierge and medical services; mutual partnerships between air travel companies, hotels and hospitals; the higher exchange rate of the Dollar, Euro and Pound against currencies where people go for medical services; safe destinations; and the increasing success rate of medical procedures outside say, U.S.