Africa Healthcare: Cancer called Medical Tourism
It is astonishing to read the about the constant growth of African medical tourism .It is obvious that healthcare in Africa is not as developed as it should be or comparable to the developed world. The insanity about this medical tourism is that majority of it are been facilitated by medical doctors in Africa who wants to be earn more hard currency by referring their patient abroad. I do realise and accept that everyone has the right or freedom to seek healthcare wherever they can find it.
We often read about the government is not investing in healthcare and how poor the existing infrastructures are. Let us look at this way. Most of the Doctors who are recommending or facilitating the transfer of patient treatment abroad don’t do this by send fax message. They initiate the process via email. This means they do have the basic technology to build a knowledge base of professional who could support their diagnosis and clinical decision-making process. Precisely, they can adopt either telemedicine or telehealth.
Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, defines telemedicine as "the delivery of any healthcare service or transmission of wellness information using telecommunications technology," Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South, Africa etc have got the capacity even though not 100%, to explore telecommunication infrastructure to develop healthcare in Africa. On the short run, the purveyors of medical tourism will benefit dollars, on the long run the damage done to Africa healthcare is downgrading well trained Doctors who are still working in Africa healthcare institutions , exposing patient to sub-standard treatment they could have got in their country if they have not been ill–advised. A medical friend once told of the inferior treatment some of the African medical tourist received in Europe. In Africa, the patients do have access to qualified consultants who are well trained are recognised in their speciality. He said, when Africa patients gets to Europe or India their diagnosis are most carried out by a junior doctors who are less qualified or experienced than the doctors they left in Africa.
It is quite unfortunate that educated and highly skilled professionals like doctors and nurses need to be educated on the need to develop and enhance their profession . The fear poverty has eaten to the bedrock of our souls in Africa. We want to accrue wealth for generations that might not even need it. We should start focusing on the legacy that we would like to bequeath to out coming generation. Legacies that will make them not face the same challenges that we are having now.
Africa healthcare practitioners and all stakeholders need to start thinking about how we could make something out of the little that we have now. We might not have the MRI scanners etc, we do have the expertise and the influence to attract investors to invest in our healthcare and build capacity to diagnose , treat and care for patients in Africa