Kenya seeks to reverse medical tourism


Rather than Kenyans going to South Africa, Dubai or India for medical treatment, Kenya plans to treat them at home and attract medical tourists from other African countries.

Kenyans spend an estimated $120 million annually on medical treatment abroad, causing problems on loss of scarce foreign exchange, says the Ministry of Health. So it plans to build local facilities and launch a strategic medical tourism scheme to reduce the amount of money spent abroad.

Under the scheme, the government in partnership with the private sector will establish modern, fully equipped health facilities to attract patients locally and from other countries. The ambitious plan seeks to reduce the number of Kenyans going abroad to nil.
A substantial fund has been set aside to rehabilitate a hundred clinics and hospitals across Kenya. Equipment for diagnostics, cancer, renal and heart diseases will also be bought to improve local health services.

Health Cabinet secretary James Macharia says that plans are underway to launch a strategic plan for medical tourism. “Under the scheme, the patients shall be treated locally saving Sh10 million annually and also attracting patients from other countries. The tenders have been opened up and this will see service delivery in the public hospitals improve. Under the public private partnership scheme, the private sector will buy equipment and train personnel and later charge the government.”

In Kenya, faith-based organisations and the private sector run 50% of the health centres in the country and the government is committed to working with them.

Improved health facilities will be in every one of the 47 counties as part of the devolution project giving county governments more power.



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