Zimbabwe aspires to become a hub for medical tourism – CAJ News Africa
of DANIEL JONES at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
THE VICTORIA FALLS, (ACJ News) – ZIMBABWE has suffered in recent years the ignominy of its dying elite in neighboring countries and abroad as its once thriving health sector collapses.
Now the government wants to see these roles reversed, attracting citizens of other countries to seek treatment in Zimbabwe.
The administration is committed to resuscitating the sector in its heyday at independence in order to attract patients from all over the world to seek treatment in the southern African country.
Zimbabwe aims to build on the latest advances in COVID-19 prevention and vaccination programs.
Despite its health sector in crisis after years of poor administration and governance, corruption and economic downturn, it has defied the odds and has been lauded for its response to the pandemic.
This resulted in people from neighboring countries traveling to Zimbabwe to be vaccinated.
Among these are citizens of South Africa, which has a relatively robust health sector and the country, alongside India, is the most popular estimate for medical tourism.
Victoria Falls, the resort town, was arguably the first city in Africa to achieve collective immunity. There are plans to build a medical center in the city to accommodate visiting tourists.
âWhat’s nice is we’ve hit 100% (immunity) here. Why not initiate health tourism here in Victoria Falls? Joked Vice President Costantino Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Protection.
He was addressing his feelings to the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe (AHFoZ).
Chiwenga said Zimbabwe has the potential to regain its former status as a net exporter of health services to the region.
âIf we are rebuilding, we envision quality services in public sector facilities which should position Zimbabwe as a preferred destination for health services, which is inbound medical tourism,â Chiwenga said.
He recalled that Zimbabwe, at independence, had a flourishing and internationally recognized health services sector.
“You remember this country treated people from other countries,” he said.
The health sector is no more than a shadow of itself with thousands of medical workers leaving for greener pastures, the others almost always on strike and in need of medicine.
However, Chiwenga is optimistic.
âWe still have excellent healthcare skills serving public and private institutions. Therefore, renovation and re-equipment must be accelerated as the panacea to resuscitate medical tourism, âhe said.
Chiwenga said the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa supports public-private partnerships.
Shylet Sanyanga, the director general of AHFOZ, called for the modernization of infrastructure and for the government to guarantee quality and affordable services.
âWe were the loudest in lobbying that patients should not go elsewhere for treatment. We have good skills and can use them to prevent currency leakage, âshe said.
A significant number of Zimbabweans have traveled mainly to South Africa for medical treatment.
Politicians – sometimes at the expense of taxpayers – and wealthy citizens fly abroad.
Ironically, Chiwenga is among them.
Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai died of colorectal cancer in a South African hospital in 2018.
Robert Mugabe, president between 1980 and 2017, died of advanced cancer at a Singapore facility in 2019.
– CAJ News