Dar es Salaam. Until recently, a few people would have considered East Africa a place for high tech medical treatment. But Tanzania is quickly earning that recognition with investment in state-of-the-art medical facilities.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa is today expected to inaugurate the Sh192 billion Phase II of the expansion of the Aga Khan Hospital – a facility that is tipped to boost medical tourism in the country.
Princes Zahra Aga Khan will host the launch event.
For many years, Tanzania has been losing a considerably large amount of money to medical tourism, as its citizens travelled abroad in their thousands every year for treatment.
According to media reports, the country had a total bill of Sh554 billion in 2015, for treatments of Tanzanian patients in foreign hospitals.
That was a huge amount, considering that it is almost three times the cost of constructing the world-acclaimed and Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited Aga Khan Hospital’s new multi-facility wing.
With such advanced medical facilities, Tanzania is expected to cut down on its foreign medical treatment bill. More so, the country is eyeing to reap big from investment in world-class medical services in this new wing.
For the Aga Khan Health Services, this comes as a huge boost. Some 300-plus foreign patients were treated at the hospital last year. With the new building, it is expected that the figure will rise to over 600 by the end of 2019.
In the past, medical tourism referred only to people travelling from less-developed countries to major medical centres in developed countries for treatment not available in their countries of origin.
Things have since changed.
It now refers to people travelling from developed countries for treatment in developing countries, in search of lower-priced but high quality medical treatment.
For example, kidney transplants are performed for Sh21 million, compared to foreign medical centres that charge in excess of Sh100 million.
In the recent past, Aga Khan Hospital has been attracting patients mainly from across sub-Sahara Africa. It has set eyes on patients from developed nations.
Foreign patients travelling to Tanzania for treatment will receive quality healthcare services in family medicine, child and maternal care; and benefit from the development of new specialist programmes in cardiology, oncology and neuro-sciences.
The Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam is the third hospital in East Africa that has received accreditation by the JCI. The other two hospitals are the Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma, and the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
With the JCI logo on its brand, the Aga Khan Hospital is attracting more and more foreign patients across the continent.