The Africa Medical Tourism Council (AMTC), an initiative aimed at promoting a more organized medical tourism infrastructure within Ghana, has been launched in Accra.
The Council is also aimed at providing both equipment and skills transfer to help nurture competencies in different areas of medical specialties, developing a highly skilled specialist workforce over a number of years.
Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Presidential Advisor on Health, said the launch of the Council was a significant leap forward in Ghana’s commitment to advancing healthcare services in Ghana and positioning the nation as a beacon of medical excellence on the African Continent.
“The AMTC is not just an initiative but a testament to our dedication to fostering a robust, all-inclusive world class healthcare system, especially in this sub-region.”
He said medical tourism elevated the standard of healthcare and allowed healthcare facilities to practise international standards of healthcare delivery, while increasing the availability of advanced medical treatments.
“Medical tourism encourages a more focused patient-centred approach to care, attracts foreign infrastructural investment, improves tourism architecture and international arrivals of countries and attracts highly skilled medical professionals into countries and allows training and capacity building in areas of care which is not already available.”
According to Mr Nsiah-Asare, in West Africa, about 60,000 Africans travel abroad for healthcare each year, with an estimated US$6 billion spent on medical tourism from the entire continent, with about 1-2 billion USD from West Africa.
“Ghana already attracts some medical tourists from the sub region, but the exact number is unknown. Designing and implementing a more organised medical tourism infrastructure will significantly increase the traffic and revenue from this source.”
He noted that the global medical tourism market was valued at US$60 billion and expected to grow to US$200 billion by 2030, hence some countries actively promoted it as a key economic growth strategy, with significant government support.
The Presidential Advisor said while medical care was delivered in individual healthcare facilities, medical tourism reputation was usually country specific, hence efforts must be made to ensure the journey of the medical tourist in Ghana is seamless from point of arrival, through the care process till the patient leaves the county.
“ The role of the AMTC is to ensure that whichever hospital a foreigner receives care, they can return home with good feedback that encourages others to come here. This is how we can systematically redirect some of the patients going into the Western or Asian countries to Ghana.”
He was hopeful that within the next few years through the essential work of the Council together with key facilities to promote medical tourism, Ghana would begin to see increased traffic of patients from the sub region and also an improved healthcare service delivery within the country.
Dr Kwesi Eyison, Ag. President GHATOF, said collaboration and partnerships between the private sector in healthcare and the tourism industry with the establishment of AMTC was essential for creating a seamless and positive experience for medical tourists and medical tourism in general.
“As the medical tourism industry evolves, private sector players will continue to innovate and adapt to meet the changing needs and expectations of medical tourists.”
Dr Kwabena Appiah Sekyi, Chief Executive Officer and President AMTC said Ghana must strive harder to be able to offer medical services that would attract tourists from foreign countries to receive treatment in Ghana as well.
He said, “if we are able to organise and offer effective and efficient medical tourism within a year we will be demonstrating growth and improved health care delivery in the country.
Dr Edward Ackah Nyamike Jnr, President, Ghana Hotel Association, said the establishment of ATMC would certainly contribute to driving tourist traffic to Ghana, and prevent Ghanaian from traveling outside to seek health care.
This, he said, would eventually increase the occupancy levels in the hotels since tourism was a strong correlation between international and domestic visits and, occupancy level of hotels.
Mr Emmanuel Frimpong, President, African Tourism Research Network, said they would be working closely with some top hospitals who have facilities that could match up some facilities outside to offer specialised services that would generate revenue for the country and create employment.
“Ghana has good doctors and surgeons but what we are not doing right is getting the right equipment into the country and also being intentional about the level of medical care we want to have.”
He assured that the council would work hard to ensure to have at least one good standard hospital in each region that can help promote their course and then gradually pick it up with other medical centres.