Can Zimbabwe develop inbound medical tourism?


Zimbabwe reopened international airports from October 1, allowing Zimbabwean medical tourists can go overseas again. Domestic flights within the country have also resumed.

A traffic light system will identify which source countries can enter Zimbabwe but even after the official airport opening, the list of acceptable and non-acceptable countries has not been published.

With Zimbabwe’s goal of having tourism produce US$5 billion by 2025, the country is very eager to restart tourism as quickly, yet as safely, as possible. All arrivals, regardless if they are nationals returning home or foreign tourists, need to bring a negative PCR test with them, taken no longer than 48 hours before the time of flight departure. All travellers will be screened at airports.

Most medical tourism is outbound. 20,000 Zimbabweans go to other countries for medical treatment each year. Most go to South Africa, which has re-opened borders. Others go to Dubai and Turkey, both of whom have opened to medical tourists. Those preferring Singapore, Malaysia or India cannot go there yet.

Zimbabwe is however seeking to develop inbound medical tourism.

The Zimbabwe-China Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture Centre, the first of its kind in the country, has opened in the capital Harare. It is a TCM medical institution with full diagnosis and treatment capacities.

The new centre will complement Zimbabwe's health care system. The country sees including TCM as a way of improving outcomes for patients, particularly those who suffer from some conditions which are chronic and degenerative, for example, low back pain. The clinic is positioning itself as a place where patients can have their pain relieved without being operated on and without going into invasive procedures.

The centre also marks a new chapter of cooperation in the health sector between China and Zimbabwe.

Across Africa, China is increasingly important on developing local healthcare and infrastructure. China often seen by receiving countries as not having the colonial history of Europe or the UK, or the perceived aggression of the USA.



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