Plans are underway to utilise facilities at Mulago referral hospital for medical tourism as a measure of generating more revenue for the cash-strapped hospital.
With the Uganda Heart Institute’s recently-acquired catheterisation laboratory, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) feels the equipment can be used to attract patients from the region, who will later tour the country. The laboratory, which cost government $5m, is rare in the region, where only Kenya has such equipment.
“We can use this lab to generate more revenue through medical tourism. This is what is being done in other countries like India, which currently leads the world in medical tourism. They have the state of the art equipment that brings people from across the globe,” the institute’s head surgeon, Tom Mwamba, said recently at a press conference.
John Ssempebwa, the deputy CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), promised to support the institute to package the laboratory so that it is marketed to other countries such as Rwanda, South Sudan, DRC, Burundi and Tanzania.
“Tourism is not just about the gorillas. For sustainability, we have got to be versatile,” Ssempebwa noted.
Medical tourism is a new form of tourism, which is growing in countries like India. According to online sources, India’s medical tourism sector is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 30 per cent, making it a $2 billion industry by 2015. As medical treatment costs in the developed world increase, an estimated 150,000 of patients travel to India for low-priced healthcare every year.
According to the director of Uganda Heart Institute, Dr John Omagino, of the 1.6 million babies born every year in Uganda, one per cent has a heart defect, which translates into about 16,000 babies born with heart problems annually. Of the 16,000, Dr Omagino says, at least 50 per cent (8,000 babies) require intervention to live a meaningful life.
Source : The Observer