Over five years, major investments in healthcare in Tanzania have enhanced the availability of specialised services transforming the country into a minor destination for medical tourism.
Investment in specialised services has reduced the number of patients seeking medical treatment abroad. The Ministry of Health used to refer 200 to 300 patients abroad annually, but this number has dropped to less than 60. The number of individuals paying for treatment abroad now is believed to be small.
Before the services were introduced at home, the government spent billions of shillings to cover the cost of medical treatment for Tanzanians, who were referred abroad.
The major improvements in the health sector could enable the country to become a minor medical tourism destination in public hospitals and earn the government revenue.
For example, the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) can now handle complicated cases that were being referred abroad. JKCI serves patients from across all the regions in Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar, who are referred from regional referral and designated district hospitals for tertiary level cardio-vascular medical care.
JKCI also receives patients from neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Comoro, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi.
Tanzania has now opened airports for international arrivals, but Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda. Burundi and South Sudan are all still banning or advising against outbound travel.