Kenya needs to take advantage of its existing assets it the medical sector to attract other nationals seeking specialised treatment services abroad, experts have urged.
A recent report by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency noted that the private health sector in Kenya is one of the most developed and dynamic in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya was named among the top six destinations where African nationals visit seeking high-end specialised medical services. The report, dubbed Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth, noted that Medical tourism cross-border travel for medical purposes, including for medical services and elective procedures is an emerging market segment that has expanded in recent years in several African countries, notably Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia.
“Kenya holds leadership in the region for technology and education with matured democracy.” Mediheal’s Vice President- International Patient Service Mr Gokul Prem Kumar said.
According to Mr Prem, Kenya is strategically placed given its accessibility from various parts of the continent as well as the world.
According to data from the ministry of health, approximately 10,000 Kenyans travel abroad annually, in search of medical treatment and end up spending at least Sh10 billion in the same period. The government is now working to provide quality healthcare in the country in a bid to reverse the current trends in medical tourism by Kenyans seeking health services abroad.
In March this year, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki opened a kidney and liver transplant centre at Mediheal Hospital and Fertility Centre in Eldoret. The CS commended the Hospital for its outstanding leadership in provision of high quality medical services in Kenya as well as across the East African Region.
Medi-heal has invested heavily in access to sub specialized including 120 dialysis chairs, 20 operating theatres and 120 ICU beds among other quality medical equipment.
The CS also noted that the centre would help to reduce the outward referrals to other countries for these transplant services.
Kenya has a robust medical insurance sector. This, according to Mr Prem could work very well when the insurers partner with health providers to offer reasonable packages with affordable premiums.
“We are not very aggressive at marketing what the country has to offer in terms of medical value travels. We have come a long way, we need to build the brand and increase credibility amongst Kenyans as well as other nationals,” Mr Prem noted adding that the country has what it takes to deliver quality healthcare.