Out­cry over med­i­cal rev­enue loss

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Leonard Ncube

MED­I­CAL doc­tors are con­cerned about po­ten­tial rev­enue they and the coun­try are los­ing when pa­tients travel to seek treat­ment abroad and have im­plored the Gov­ern­ment to de­velop in­fra­struc­ture to re­tain pa­tients.

Speak­ing at the Zim­babwe Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion congress which ended here at the week­end, doc­tors said there was a need to start in­vest­ing in med­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture so as to at­tract med­i­cal or health tourism.

Health tourism is de­scribed as “the visit by in­di­vid­u­als to a for­eign coun­try not for leisure but seek­ing treat­ment”.

The doc­tors say they 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.

“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,” said Dr Lil­ian Dahwa, a lec­turer at the Univer­sity of Zim­babwe.

She said 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 pre­ferred coun­tries,” said Dr Dahwa.

She said it would also be cheaper for health fun­ders and pa­tients to be treated lo­cally as there will be less chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with fol­low up vis­its.

Dr Dahwa im­plored med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to move away from solo prac­tice into group prac­tice which can help de­velop the sec­tor.

“While Asia has the best fa­cil­i­ties, ours re­main like tuck shops be­cause we still want to re­main solo prac­ti­tion­ers. We need good fa­cil­i­ties and we must send our young doc­tors to those cen­tres to learn and come back to im­part knowl­edge and bring con­fi­dence so pa­tients don’t seek treat­ment out­side the coun­try.”

She said this can also be achieved by en­gag­ing coun­tries with ‘best’ fa­cil­i­ties to es­tab­lish cen­tres for chronic dis­eases such as can­cer, kid­ney and heart dis­ease in Zim­babwe. A kid­ney spe­cial­ist Dr Onis­mas Madzudzo said: “Peo­ple travel to In­dia and South Africa be­cause we have no fa­cil­i­ties. South Africa has ev­ery­thing but it’s 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,” said Dr Madzudzo.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­tors, a sur­gi­cal process that costs $30 000 in the United States costs $10 000 in In­dia and $80 000 in South Africa. — @ncubeleon

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