Ghana and Turkey are pushing to grab a share of Nigeria’s $1 billion medical tourism market with offers of curative and preventive procedures enabled by modern facilities, improved technology, and highly skilled multi-specialists.
Hospitals in Ghana, private and public, want Nigerians to look their way first when considering healthcare plans abroad as a way to keep the huge capital flight on health tourism within the sub-region and build scale.
Those from Turkey are craving for Nigerians to come and experience all types of surgeries and operations manned by qualified healthcare personnel, the latest technological equipment, and medical supplies within Ankara, the capital city.
This is at a time when Nigeria is struggling to reverse outbound medical tourism and encourage high-end consumers to trust the local health system
The University of Ghana Medical Centre Limited, The Bank Hospital, Lucca Health, an America-based healthcare provider, and Bethel Dental Clinic, among other top hospitals in Ghana, led key sessions at the second medical tourism expo held along with the 19th Akwaaba African Travel Market event in Lagos on Tuesday.
Also, a collection of hospitals led by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, including Medipol Global International Health Services and the VM Medical Park, Ankara Hospital showcased.
Koby Appiah-Sakyi, chief executive of The Bank Hospital, Accra, said the Nigerian market was important because of the huge population estimated at 214 million, more than half of the size of the West African sub-region.
He said most hospitals in Ghana attract organic traffic flow of patients from Nigeria as well as Benin, Ivory Coast, and others.
As a result, the African Medical Tourism Council was established early this year to ease the accessibility of tourists who often grumble about journeying to their destinations, Appiah-Sakyi said.
“It’s an important market and a lot of money goes out of Nigeria to be spent in other parts of the world. What we are saying is that, yes we must go somewhere but within our local sub-region, we must also develop businesses,” he said.
“The reason we need to do this is to expand the scale within the sub-region. If you come and you are operated, the scale stays within the sub-region and it helps us in training our medical students. In 2000, Ghana built the first cardiothoracic centre in the sub-region, which has trained over 100 surgeons, a lot of them Nigerians.”
Appiah-Sakyi returned to Ghana to establish a practice after working at established institutions in the United Kingdom for 18 years and in Qatar for seven years.
He said Ghana’s medical facilities have become modern over the past 15 years, with many returning from abroad to set up facilities that practice at a very high standard.
Medical tourism in Ghana is mainly driven by procedures in cosmetics, dentistry, interventional cardiology, IVF, breast surgery, and gynaecology.
In Turkey, it is driven by hair transplantation, dental procedures, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery and infertility treatment and cost-effective rates, according to the Medical Tourism Association.
Turkey, for instance, is a popular destination for plastic surgery, such as breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, and liposuction. The prices for plastic surgery in Turkey are much lower than in other countries, and the quality of care is still very high.
Tamer Hotomaroglu, general secretary of the International Health Tourism Association, said the safety of medical tourists was prime among a host of services offered in Turkey.
He said Turkey was one of the safest places to undergo medical procedures, adding that the current president of the World Organ Transplant Association comes from Turkey.