Medical tourism has a lot of potential in transforming the healthcare scenario in African countries. Nigerian patients have been making use of medical tourism facilities to travel to India for getting treatment on a regular basis.
Though this has faced a lot of flak from the medical community due to the foreign exchange loss of upto USD $2 Billion every year. This is the amount that Nigerians are spending in getting treatment abroad. And a majority of them travel to India for treatment. But see medical tourism from this perspective would be not fair.
Due to medical tourism a lot of medical tourism companies and hospitals from India have started establishing their medical facilities in Nigeria itself. By doing so this will help in turning around of the healthcare system of Nigeria. Though the progress has been slow but the impact is quite much.
Another positive outcome of medical tourism India has been that due to this regular health check camps are being conducted in various parts of Nigeria. These health checkup camps have two benefits for Nigeria. First, the nigerian patients can get their check up from some of the top doctors from India and also get access to medical specialties which they might not have got before. Second, the doctors also get to learn about new things when they interact and work with their Indian counterparts. A healthy exchange of information takes place. These experiences can be highly beneficial to the Nigerian doctors. Many of the doctors then go onto do CME continuing medical education programs in Indian hospitals.
Today the Nigerian patients have a lot of choices in terms of what kind of treatment they seek for themselves. Depending upon their budget, choices and location they can travel to their choice of treatment facilities abroad. No longer do the patients have to be restricted due to the limited choice of treatment options available.
In hindsight medical tourism might not look advantageous to the medical community in Nigeria but if we look in the long term this will create a large impact in Nigeria. The scale of value addition that Medical tourism India would be able to put in would not have been possible otherwise. The challenge is now to embrace medical tourism and try to work with the flow. Make us of the opportunity to learn new things and achieve new things in Nigerian healthcare system.
The patients should make better informed choices before they embark on their medical tour to India. Proper research and planning is the right thing to do. There are many hospitals to get treatment in India just a little but of patience and working with medical tourism companies will help in making proper and well though decisions.
So next time a Nigerian heads out to India for treatment do give it a thought that in some way or other that patient is indirectly contributing in the healthcare improvement in Nigeria. Medical tourism and Nigeria working together in tandem is the need of the hour.