Is Africa always a exporter, or can it be a healthcare destination?

 

When it comes to health tourism.....let’s forget about “Darkest Africa” (Henry M. Stanley). And let’s stop thinking in terms of “the Four Horsemen of Africa’s Apocalypse”:

  •     Corruption
  •     Disease
  •     War
  •     Poverty

Those who have closely been following events and developments since the 1970’s see and are heralding the new age of the “Brightest Africa”.

Of course, I have a “soft spot for” and an “Africa” connection, so there is a clear element of bias in what I write in this article! But being biased does not necessarily make you wrong, or self interested.

During my travels as an invited and hosted speaker at Health Tourism conferences and events,  I see clear evidence of non-African countries actively pitching and enticing African governments to encourage their citizens to go for treatment outside Africa, and “preferably, come to us”.

I will not go to the trouble of listing these countries;  those in the Health Tourism sector know them and can list them off by heart. Those who know me (and my world outlook) are aware that I am very strongly against protectionist practices ....but often, shopping for healthcare in faraway lands just does not make sense, especially if decisions are not based on quality and cost.

Some of the countries so generously offering their health-related services to Africa are at the same time, vocal champions of development in Africa. But why are they not championing healthcare development in Africa, as well?

And what are the African countries, themselves, doing to further develop their healthcare industries and in the process additionally benefit by the network effect (Networked Countries - development in an adjacent or nearby country will rub off – and benefit yours as well).

At a recent meeting of the “Africa Group”, the African Ambassadors to Greece, I started by saying: “We are aware of, and commend  the spirit of collaboration and reciprocal support which exists amongst African States and the common objective of promoting success in the Continent”.

Africa can point to a number of national, regional and even international healthcare industry successes (for an example see NetCare, a South Africa-based investment holding company which through its subsidiaries, operates the largest private hospital network in South Africa and the United Kingdom). If Africa can export its healthcare industry expertise, does it need to export patients outside Africa as well?

A combined event in Africa in April 2010 will look at the issues facing Africa in Health Tourism:

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