Kenya Takes the Lead in Medical Tourism
By George Omondi
Private health and wellness facilities are setting Kenya apart as one of the key medical tourist destinations in Africa, a new report shows.
The Economic Development in Africa Report 2017 released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) last week shows Kenya is one of Africa’s top beneficiaries of cross-border travel for medical purposes.
Its health and wellness facilities are wooing hundreds of visitors from neighbouring states and helping to boost tourism industry.
“The medical tourism is marked by African nationals seeking high-end specialised medical services and primary health-care services, increasingly in other African countries,” the report titled Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth states.
Apart from Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia are also cited as top destinations for European and Africans seeking medical services.
The report states that a number of Europeans also pour into Africa every year seeking low-cost, high-quality specialised medical services and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Generally, four out of 10 international tourists in Africa come from the continent itself with estimates suggesting that the intraregional medical tourism market segment is growing.
“Demand by medical tourists for specialised medical care can stimulate job creation for highly skilled health professionals who provide such services,” states the Unctad tourism report.
The report also cites wellness tourism — travel for the pursuit of enhancing physical well-being — as another growing market segment that has taken route in Africa.
The continent has experienced a growing demand for homeopathic treatments and traditional therapies from international and domestic tourists, the report states.
It identifies the Sub-Saharan Africa among the fastest growing markets for wellness tourism, with significant growth in the number of wellness tourists and spa revenues.
“The market segment is increasingly emerging elsewhere on the continent, including in Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria,” it states, adding that Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia already have developed niche markets.
Kenya’s health tourism Strategy 2014- 2018 seeks inbound medical tourism from sub-Saharan Africa.
It also targets to increase health-care services exports “through the provision of high-quality health-care services and infrastructure.”