Zimbabwe attacks medical tourism

Zimbabwe is the latest African country where doctors want to reduce outbound medical tourism. Zimbabwe Medical Association congress expresses grave concerns.

Doctors at the Zimbabwe Medical Association congress expressed grave concerns about potential revenue they and the country are losing when patients travel to seek treatment abroad and implore the government to invest in the local medical infrastructure.

Doctors are concerned with the increase in the number of Zimbabweans seeking medical treatment outside the country and have called for public-private partnerships in capacity and infrastructure building to enable the country to benefit by retaining patients and revenue.

Dr Lilian Dahwa from the University of Zimbabwe explains, “Patients are travelling outside the country because we have no capacity compared to countries in Asia where they have centres of excellence with everything under one roof. With infrastructure, Zimbabwe can replace India, South Africa and Singapore as leading health tourism destinations and get revenue. We have a large number of patients travelling outside the country and we aren’t benefiting as the medical sector and country as a whole. We need a transfer of knowledge where we can make Zimbabwe a medical tourism destination and bring home revenue by also bringing home practitioners practising in other countries. It will be cheaper for health funders to get patients treated locally as there will be less challenges associated with follow up visits. While Asia has the best facilities, ours remain like shops because we still want to remain solo practitioners.

Dr Onismas Madzudzo adds- “People travel to India and South Africa because we have no facilities. South Africa has everything but is expensive while India is too far. The challenge we have is that patients will seek to fly back there for further monitoring and that comes with hidden costs which can be avoided if we had our facilities.”