It is common knowledge that many Nigerians side-step Nigerian hospitals to seek medical care in other countries. These medical tourists often seek modern healthcare at usually high costs in countries that are perceived to be better developed than Nigeria in the areas of healthcare.
Medical tourism is a worldwide phenomenon. Although the themes may be similar, the reasons for it vary from patient to patient, as do the factors that affect the choices of destination. In developed countries, medical tourism flows towards less developed countries for reasons such as lack of insurance coverage which makes healthcare rather expensive.
From less developed nations such as Nigeria, patients typically go to major medical hubs in developed countries for advanced healthcare services. Nigeria reportedly loses about £1 billion to medical tourism yearly.
Medical tourism for Nigerians is usually for varied reasons such as cosmetic procedures, fertility treatments, births, medical and surgical care for cancer, kidney disease, bone surgeries and brain surgeries.
Below are the most popular medical tourism destinations for Nigerians.
India is arguably the most common destination for medical tourism not only for Nigerians, but the world, receiving about 700,000 medical tourists yearly. Many reasons contribute to the success of India as a medical tourism destination. Beyond the abundance of trained manpower, the Indian government has a variety of policies and visa programmes that facilitate the process of travelling to India.
Cost: Healthcare in India is less than a tenth of the costs obtainable in the United States and the United Kingdom while providing a competitive level of care.
Quality of Care: India is known to have abundant medical manpower trained at world-class medical universities in India. Many of India’s healthcare experts are also trained abroad in the United States and the United Kingdom. They often return afterwards to work in India.
India is the choice destination for surgical procedures such as transplants, eye surgery and more. The country has over 39 Joint Commission International-accredited healthcare providers, most of them in Chennai. The Joint Commission International is the International branch of United States Based non-profit organisation that recognises and accredits medical services.
Ease of Travel: The government of India has removed a lot of visa restrictions for travellers, and also issues visa on arrival to many travellers. Chennai, the Medical Tourism capital of India is known to be optimised to cater to the needs of travellers, and communication is in English. Hospitals in India also have translators on staff to interpret for the patients under their care.
Singapore is the second most common destination for medical tourism for Nigerians owing to its excellent healthcare services and affordability. The small city-state receives about 500,000 medical tourists yearly into its many hospitals, including its over 21 JCI accredited hospitals. In addition to its many policies to attract medical tourism to Singapore, the city-state offers an international health insurance plan.
Cost: Singapore is typically more expensive than India for the same procedures but with the help of their loudly advertised international health insurance plans, they have often offered affordable care and competitive prices compared to India.
Quality of Care: The country’s medical tourism sector is built on high-quality services and the involvement of up to 21 accredited hospitals that are Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited.
Ease of Travel: Medical Tourism to Singapore is provided by many international medical tourism agencies that connect patients in source countries to doctors in destination countries. Singapore is also an English-speaking country and Nigerians who find themselves there would not find communication a challenge.
3. United Kingdom
The relationship between Nigeria and United Kingdom in the post-colonial era has continued in many spheres, chief of which are education and medical tourism. The United Kingdom has one of the best universal healthcare services in the world, and for many affluent Nigerians who require healthcare, United Kingdom is a popular destination. Nigeria’s president as of June 2021 is one of the most popular patrons of British healthcare services.
Cost: Medical care in the charge of the National Health Service (NHS) subsidises healthcare to British residents and citizens, making it one of the most affordable in the world. However, health tourists usually come to the country and visit the hospital costing the NHS approximately 1.8 billion pounds yearly, although most of the tourists pay directly to the hospital at rates affordable to these usually affluent Nigerians.
Quality of Care: The United Kingdom has a high quality of care and offers world-class services at affordable rates. They are a global pacesetter in healthcare and they train international healthcare workers who often return to their own countries to mirror their practices to that of the UK. Many healthcare services in other medical tourism destinations are trained in the United Kingdom.
Ease of Travel: Just as the United Kingdom plays a central role in global politics and the global economy; they are also a popular destination for travel and tourism making the country one of the easiest countries to visit.
Turkey is an unlikely destination on this list but with the burgeoning popularity of cosmetic surgery, especially, Brazilian Butt Lift, one place where you can get that is Turkey, receiving more than 700,000 international patients yearly, mostly for plastic surgery.
Cost: A Brazilian butt lift in Turkey costs about $3,500, and the country is one of the cheapest places where this is done. With hundreds of plastic surgery centres in the country, their prices are competitive, offering special discounts and inclusive services.
Quality of Care: Turkish healthcare is among the best in the world where doctors are continually encouraged to update their skills and knowledge. They compete globally and are one of the popular destinations for academic events such as international conferences. Turkish doctors practise in state-of-the-art Turkish hospitals and are also sought worldwide.
Ease of Travel: Each patient who arrives to get a Brazilian butt lift in Turkey needs not worry about organizational issues. Right from the visa application and travel, a personal coordinator is often assigned to each patient and the cost of the surgery already covers this cost including language assistance, accommodation, and even meals in some clinics. Turkish airlines provide a direct flight for Nigerians going over there.