TZ pushes to become medical tourism

THE Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) has said that the massive investment done by the government in health sector has positioned the country in better place to realise its plan to become   the regional hub for medical tourism.

The country’s hospitals are now having modern equipment and medical experts who can provide specialised and super specialized services thus attracting patients from outside the country.

According to ORCI, in two years it has received 200 cancer patients from outside the country.

This was said yesterday by ORCI Oncologist, Dr Calorine Swai, when speaking to reporters after arriving into the country with a delegation of 10 specialist doctors from India where they went to explore for various medical tourism opportunities.

The doctors were in India for 10 days accompanied by Vice Chairman of the National Tourism Committee, Mr Abdulmalik Mollel, to see how they can cooperate with their Indian counterparts in promoting medical tourism in Tanzania.

He said that the services provided in hospitals in India don’t differ much with those at ORCI thus her institute was in better position to serve patients from different countries in Africa.

“The minor difference I saw is that there are many factories that manufacture medical devices and cancer medicines and thus making cancer treatment easier…

We have seen modern radiation machine but with time we will also have them,” said Mr Mollel.

He commended President Samia Suluhu Hassan for the massive investment she has done in the health sector by purchasing medical equipment and  employing professional doctors.

At the same time, brain surgeons have continued to increase in the Orthopedic Institute (MOI) and reached 16, a situation that has continued to make Tanzania a destination for medical tourism in Sub Saharan Africa .

This was revealed yesterday by the institute’s brain and spine surgeon, Nicephorus Rutabasibwa, while speaking at Mwalimu Nyerere Terminal III International Airport.

He said they looked at Tanzania’s strength in treatment and that they did not find much difference because the medical equipment and human resources of doctors there are the same as in this country.

“They have surgical equipment that we also have, they have diagnostic equipment like MRI and ST SCAN that we have, something new is the use of robots that are not even five years old and we will plan to get there.

We have looked at opportunities to collaborate with them in training our doctors,” he noted.

Mr Rutabasibwa said the sixth phase government had invested in modern equipment and human resources in the institution so that it can afford to perform high-tech surgery like in India.

“Tell Tanzanians and other Africans that a person who need brain surgery or any kind of orthopedic surgery no longer  need to  go to India, he can come at  MOI and things can go very well at affordable cost ,” he said.

On his side, Mr Mollel said the mission was to look for important partners, who are willing to work with local specialists in the improvement of health services, that will attract neighboring countries to see Tanzania as an important centre for treatment.

He also said that they looked at opportunities to build capacity for medical professionals in Tanzania and one of the major achievements they got was to reach three major cities in India which have been very successful in medical tourism in the world.

“We started in the city of Hyderabad where we stayed for four days and went to Bangarole and then we moved to the city of New Delhi, and in those cities, we have visited many hospitals and many health stakeholders to learn about access to patients from abroad, which technologies should be used.

“You can’t talk about medical tourism without mentioning a hospital like Apollo which has been doing this for more than 20 years.

We also went to hospitals like BLK, Fortis, Medanta, Yashoda, Rainbow which are special for children and HCG which specializes in cancer,” he said.

According to him, Yashoda hospital is a group of four hospitals with a total of 4,000 beds while HCG is a group of 24 hospitals, Rainbow is a group of 17 hospitals and the network of Appolo Hospitals with 70 hospitals and Fortis with 10 hospitals and health centres under it.

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