Medical tourism: Why we still have a long way to go

Editor, Refer to the commentary, “Still early for Rwanda to attract medical tourism” (The New Times, September 1). How do we expect doctors to work well while they spend most of their time looking for money? They have no time, they are part-timing...there is a lot of things that need to be done with regard to how doctors and healthcare workers are treated.
Medical personnel at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali prepare a patient for surgery. File.
Medical personnel at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali prepare a patient for surgery. File.

Editor,

Refer to the commentary, “Still early for Rwanda to attract medical tourism” (The New Times, September 1). How do we expect doctors to work well while they spend most of their time looking for money? They have no time, they are part-timing...there is a lot of things that need to be done with regard to how doctors and healthcare workers are treated.

They take care of people’s lives and they are not like accountants or belong to any other profession. That is not to mean that I despise these other professions.

Kabera, Rwanda

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The current quality and level of service of our health sector will hardly give any sleepless nights to those countries that are deriving serious income from medical tourism.

Rwanda might be able to offer better health care to Burundi and DR Congo, but I doubt many other foreigners with real means to shop for quality medical care will be coming here as a matter of choice any time soon.

Rwandans themselves, who are able to do so, take their loved ones to such places (in an ascending order of preference and financial power) as Kampala, Nairobi, South Africa, India or Europe. Had they a real choice, most would prefer home-based treatment and care for various understandable reasons.

However, most are voting with their money for foreign care, no doubt because they lack confidence in the capacity of our own health care industry and profession. Which is not to say we may not have some internationally-capable doctors and other health professionals, but that the whole system (hospitals, laboratories, research institutions, a top-quality healthcare delivery culture and all the other supportive infrastructure that denote quality medical services in any country) still leaves too much to be desired.

All these can be developed if resources, will, and vision were all brought to bear on the existing problems. But this will take time and the right people in the right places with a specific mission to cut through our often obstructive medical bureaucracy to develop first-class medical care institutions and infrastructure.

Until then, let’s dial down on fantasy claims of competing for the medical tourism industry with the likes of Kenya, South Africa or India.

Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda

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