Abidemi Ogbonna of Lagos, Nigeria, decided to visit a hospital called Apollo three years ago after experiencing severe back pain. She thought it was just a minor problem until her doctor told her she would need a kidney transplant immediately.
Her doctor informed her that the treatment could not be done locally. Her best shot of a successful operation was to fly to India. Ms. Emmanuel's middle-class family could cover the costs, so her visa was granted immediately.
The Apollo Hospital in Nigeria coordinated a surgery date with its international counterparts in India, helped in obtaining Ms. Ogbonna's visa, and scheduled her flight and accommodation in India. She only needed to pay the bill. She then boarded the next flight and traveled the long journey to save her life. Her mother was accompanying her.
Ms. Ogbonna's story is similar to that of thousands of Africans who travel abroad from their homeland for medical care.
Because of its more reasonably priced, cutting-edge equipment and highly skilled doctors, India is becoming increasingly popular among Africans looking for medical care abroad. Ms. Emmanuel's other options were the United States and the United Kingdom; however, health care in those states is extremely expensive, and getting visas is a nightmare, unlike in India, where visas are granted within a week and diagnosis is fairly affordable.
Since the 1990s, India has been hailed as a global leader in "medical tourism," which is defined as people traveling to a location other than where they usually reside in order to get medical care in that country.
India has highly qualified doctors and cutting-edge equipment, and the surgeries are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Food and Drug Administration. Patients travel to India for quality treatment offered by its medical centers, as well as lower medical costs when compared to the US and UK.
A kidney transplant, for example, costs around $13,000 in India, but can cost up to $300,000 in the United States.
According to Dr. Dheeraj Arjun Bojwani, the director of Forerunners Healthcare Consultants, one of the top medical value providers in India and affiliated with some of the best hospitals and surgeons in the nation, the price of a kidney transplant surgery with a blood relative donor is between $13,000 and $16,000.
According to Dr. Bojwani, the $13,000 kidney transplant program contains pre - operative routine tests, counseling and follow-up, surgery and surgeon's fees, anesthetist's fees, and prescription medications.
The package also includes transportation to and from the airport, lodging for one accompanying attendant, food for the duration of the patient's hospital stay, and a luxurious room with air conditioning, cable TV, and a phone.
Many African patients prefer Apollo Hospital, which is located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It has its own universal health coverage and partnerships with ten international insurance companies to help patients cover medical costs in over 60 locations across India.
When it comes to drug prices, Produced in India medicines and vaccines at a fraction of the cost in the West. Cipla, a large corporate Indian pharmaceutical company, for example, reduced the price of HIV/AIDS antiviral therapy to less than a dollar per day. This reduced the cost of costly antiretroviral medications from around $12,000 to less than $365 per year.
The Apollo Hospital in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, is favored by many African patients. It has its own global health care programme and collaborations with ten international health insurers to assist patients in covering healthcare bills in over 60 locations throughout India.
When it comes to medication prices, medicines and vaccines manufactured in India cost a fraction of what they do in the West. Cipla, a huge Indian pharmaceutical company, reduced the cost of HIV/AIDS antiviral treatment to less than a dollar per day. This reduced the annual cost of expensive antiviral drugs from around $12,000 to less than $365.
Furthermore, the Indian government is offering additional incentives to tempt foreign patients. These incentives capitalize on the country's "exotic" appeal, and include package tours that allow patients to bring a companion to sightsee historic sites such as the Taj Mahal for a reduced travel cost.
Language is not a barrier for English-speaking Africans like Ms. Ogbonna because English is the common language in India. Natural remedies such as Ayurveda, an organic therapy that uses herbal remedies, breathing techniques, diet changes, meditation, and stretching to heal, are available in India for those seeking alternatives to surgery.
Ms. Ogbonna has finally returned to her parent's place in Lagos, where she is recovering and spoke with Africa Renewal over the phone. Doctors in India recommended her to follow up with Apollo Hospital in Nigeria. However, she is concerned that her Lagos doctor will be unable to provide the comprehensive post-surgery services that she requires due to a lack of equipment.
Follow-up consultations to India may not be feasible for patients with kidney transplants who have recurred and may require hospitalization in a matter of minutes, given the time required to plan the trip (at least five days to obtain a visa) and the later flight costs.
To address these concerns, the Indian state created the Focus Africa Programme and collaborated with the African Union to establish the Pan African e-Network to maintain patient continuity.
The Focus Africa Programme, established in 2002, facilitates India's trade with many African countries, such as Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, in cost effective pharmaceuticals (along with other trade items) so that they are easily accessible on the continent.
To guarantee continuity of care for African people diagnosed in India, the Pan-African e-Network encourages tele-education and tele-medicine. Tele-education provides lessons via an Internet connection or video, whereas tele-medicine focuses on diagnostic testing and providing medical services from remote locations via a telecommunications device. A patient can receive care through medical centers in Africa that are linked to sister Indian hospitals. under such a system.
Indian health-care companies are also forming joint ventures with African hospitals. They are investing money in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, and Mozambique.
As people compare prices and nations compete to enhance their offerings, medical tourism will likely continue, but as African countries address their health system problems, it is likely that spending on it will decline. Savings from medical travel can then be used to pay for or help finance health insurance for the underprivileged.
Africa should establish local and regional medical hubs, as well as tap into pharmaceutical markets, in order to manufacture and distribute generic drugs that will reduce reliance on foreign countries for medical treatment in the future. Although there are many advantages to offshore health care, detractors claim it is not financially viable and does not always boost African economies.
Q1. How did India become a global leader in medical tourism?
A. India is the most well-liked country for medical tourism due to its inexpensive cost of care, highly skilled doctors, and improvements in medical technology.
Q2. What has become the center of Indian medical tourism?
A. Delhi and Chennai has been called the "capital of Indian health." At the city's multi- and super-specialty hospitals, 150 foreign patients are thought to arrive daily.
Q3. How many people visit India for medical purposes?
A. Due to the reasonably priced therapies available there, India ranks seventh among the 20 wellness tourism markets. More than 560 million medical tourists travel to India, spending 16.3 billion USD in a year.