If you work in the tourism sector, chances are you’ve heard the term ‘medical tourism. But what exactly is it, and why is it so important?
Simply put, medical tourism is best defined as the process of travelling outside one’s own country for the purpose of receiving medical care abroad.
Originally, medical tourism referred to the travel of patients to developed countries to receive emergency treatments that weren’t available in their home country. However, over the years there has since been a shift, with the majority of medical travellers venturing into less developed countries to access more affordable medical care.
The type of medical treatments associated with medical tourism has also changed as it has grown in popularity. Many procedures are now also cosmetic in nature: breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, liposuction and cosmetic dentistry, to name a few.
The word ‘tourism’ in medical tourism refers to the fact that patients also have the chance to enjoy a holiday, be it before the operation or after – as part of their rest and recuperation. Since travel is largely associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being, it naturally ties into the theme of recovery and healing, which also forms the basis of medical tourism.
Medical tourism in Africa
With a long list of highly sought-after attractions to further incentivise medical travellers, Africa is brimming with potential for the development of medical tourism. Adding to that is a desirable combination of flight availability, a favourable exchange rate, and increasing availability and types of medical services.
According to research conducted by Wesgro, South Africa already falls into the top 10 destinations for medical tourism, with Cape Town being the leading city in Africa for travellers seeking medical care. It also boasts some of the best doctors and facilities in the world. Medical costs are also more affordable, with studies showing that medical travellers are guaranteed to save up to 70% on their treatments.
Ghana also is positioning itself as the next medical tourism destination for Africans, with the ongoing development of the Eco Medical Village, a modern medical facility – and the largest healthcare project in West Africa.
Elsewhere on the continent, medical tourism is poised for growth, and well-positioned to stimulate economic development, particularly within the local tourism sector. This is because patients do not only require medical services, but the helping hand of tour guides, translators, hotel operators, and other local suppliers to provide peace of mind and a sense of genuine comfort during their stay.
The advantages of medical tourism are undeniable, and certainly something for those in the tourism sector to keep an eye on. Should you be interested in learning more about this growing sector, Medical Tourism South Africa proves a great place to start.