The effect of covid-19 restrictions on medical tourism in Africa – Quartz Africa


The decrease in travel to India and other “medical tourism” destinations by the African middle class is one of the expected outcomes of increased investment in medical facilities, according to a just released report, which also highlights the opportunity for these facilities to generate money by treating lifestyle-related illnesses like Africa’s middle class is growing rapidly.

The number of regional medical tourism destinations in Africa is also expected to increase beyond South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, which currently have the most advanced medical facilities on the continent, according to Research and Market’s Medical tourism 2022: Africa potential.

According to the report, “winds of change are blowing in African medical tourism.” Eleven countries are at the top of the list looking to welcome more patients from other jurisdictions in Africa, as well as outside the continent, in the coming year.

“Once viewed as a mere source for other medical tourism destinations, some African countries have taken stock and have or will seek to increase inbound medical tourism and reduce outbound medical tourism,” the report said.

New hubs are emerging in Africa for medical tourism

Algeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania are newly listed markets with the potential to help the continent save millions of dollars spent annually on major global medical tourism markets, such as India and the UK.

“Outbound medical tourism is costing African countries millions of dollars in foreign exchange revenues, so they are looking to strike back,” according to the report.

The Research and Markets report shows that Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Congo and Eswatini are among 12 local sources that could significantly increase income from intra-African tourism and trade. Ethiopia, Lesotho, Libya, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are also key sources of medical tourism that fall outside of potential or existing destinations.

“Medical tourism in 2022 and beyond will not be a reboot from what it was in 2019 and earlier, as there is no guarantee that previous trends will return,” the report says.

The report analyzes how different countries are improving healthcare as well as how medical tourism and insurance plans offered by private and government institutions are evolving, and says the pandemic has changed the rules of engagement “forever” .

Since the covid-19 epidemic, African countries have aggressively built more modern and advanced medical facilities as top medical researchers return to the continent to strengthen local medical research capacity.

Last month, Kenya launched its Integrated Molecular Imaging Center and Visitor Center, a cancer treatment center with one hostel for 100 people. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said it would save Kenyans the more than $ 89 million they spend annually on cancer treatment outside the country.

Ghana made history by building an Infectious Disease Center (GIDC) with a capacity of 100 beds – now a benchmark for patients in need of intensive care – during the pandemic, leveraging funding from the sector private and government. Last year, the West African country also announced plans to build an 1,100-bed health facility dubbed Eco Medical Village to position itself as the next medical tourism destination for Africans.

Investment in medical facilities in Africa has also led to regional investments, with Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed visiting Uganda in October to attend the inauguration of the AFRI Egypt Medical Center, an investment Egyptian in high-tech health facilities in Jinja.

In August, Rwanda and Senegal were selected by covid-19 vaccine maker BioNTech for local production of malaria and tuberculosis vaccines. Nigeria has also launched Africa’s first private laboratory for whole human genome sequencing, following a $ 15 million fundraiser by start-up 54Gene last year.

Meanwhile, medical professionals who might have flown abroad to seek greener pastures are choosing to stay at home. Some, like doctor and entrepreneur Maxwell Okoth, founder of the 100-bed Ruai Family Hospital in Kenya, have instead started investing in private medical facilities.

These trends, along with plans by the African Union and the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to build local capacity to manufacture 60% of covid-19 vaccines locally by 2040, are expected. changing the face of medical tourism in Africa.

Medical Tourism Index 2020/2021 by Medical Tourism Association, tracks the 46 leading medical tourism destinations in the world. It ranks South Africa (22), Egypt (26), Morocco (31) and Tunisia (38) as the top destinations in Africa.

The original version of this story has been republished with permission from bird, a history agency under Africa No Filter.

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