26 Aug 2021

Medical Tourism: Assessing Health Care Standards in Africa

Post by uday patel

Africa is a large continent and comprises many countries. It is the second-largest in population as well as area. Well known for wildlife tourism and mineral resources, most countries are underdeveloped and trail behind in the economy compared to the rest of the World. The world view of African countries is limited to that dominated by internecine tribal and religious wars, and yes, it’s an exotic wilderness.


Healthy Africans

Africa carries an enormous disease burden, with infectious diseases topping the list. Zoonotic diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis abound, but only a few find mentioned here; many more are widespread all over the continent. The burden of infectious disease aside, the number of diseases related to human organs and lifestyles that are most debilitating and life-threatening are rapidly increasing.

Diagnostic Lab

Medical Diagnostic Lab

With an inadequate health infrastructure thanks to low investment in the sector, Africans often travel abroad for treatment. Unfortunately, this applies mainly to those who can afford to travel overseas for surgery and palliative care. But for most citizens below the poverty line, domestic hospitals, and clinics, howsoever poorly equipped, are the only recourse.

In the case of Africa, well-funded quality health infrastructure has to be fortified which is one of the most challenging aspects of development in the post-pandemic period. Inadequate funding and lack of expertise are the main reason behind the abysmal lack of facilities and adequate treatment capabilities. Take the case of Nigeria, one of the wealthiest countries on the continent, the funds allotted for health care are a mere 4.6 percent of its annual National Income. The per capita income of Nigeria is to scale up over 2450 USD in the post-pandemic period.

The continent is subject to the harrowing tragedy of deaths, epidemics, paralyzing sickness due to lack of hygiene, and poor health infrastructure. According to WHO, Africa’s share of the World’s disease burden is 25 %, but spending on health care is a minuscule 1 %. Hardly any nation can spend 40$ per person on health as stipulated by WHO. Inadequate public health systems much vitiate the situation in most countries. Sub Saharan Sector is the worst affected region with deplorable facilities and a complete lack of trained workforce.

Excluding South Africa, most of the financially able patients seek treatments abroad. The criteria for selecting a country are based on affordability and quality.

Why India?

Flaunted as a global leader in medical travel, India boasts of a vast health system besides an abundance of trained human resources. Expertise in diverse health-related ailments, state-of-the-art equipment, and affordability that tops the list attracts many Africans to India. Moreover, getting a VISA is much easier in this country as compared with the West.

Moreover, India is preferred for cures due to a stable political atmosphere, greater safety, and affordable internal travel and accommodations. And it is not only Africans that are coming forward to boost medical tourism here. Even patients from China, the US, and the EU are heading toward our hospitals and clinics. This attraction is due to lower cost and quality factors.

Compared to developed nations like the UK and USA, the cost of a kidney transplant averages $15000 an all-inclusive package against a whopping $300000 in the US. The affordability alone draws many patients on travel, but the country excels in most disciplines as a treatment hub.

Proactive hospital chains have been tied up in facilitating overseas patients with the benefit of International Insurance schemes. This expense amply covers the medical cost in India, further reducing the price tag.
Although most of the packages offered are all-inclusive, we should also note that the country is a pharmaceutical hub. As a result, it produces formulations and medical devices at a fraction of the price available in the West. As a result, most lifesaving drugs are readily available in India, although some acquisitions could be due to timely imports.

It is not only the pharmacopeia that is quality-driven and cheap. India boasts of a well-developed medical device and equipment industry which are essential support systems. Moreover, the treatments are approved by WHO and US Food & Drug Association accreditations that instill faith in the Indian Health Care Infrastructure.

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