Hospital launches new program to curb medical tourism
By Purity Thuku
At least 10, 000 Kenyans travel to India to seek treatment every year, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) statistics show.
In a bid to transform the healthcare system in the country and promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Avenue Healthcare has collaborated with India’s CARE Hospitals Group to offer clinical solutions locally and curb medical tourism.
Speaking at a recent media forum, Avenue Healthcare Chief Executive Dr. Dennis Ogolla observed that the pilot program aims to upscale the staff and will also collaborate with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) for more affordable services.
“Avenue and CARE partnership is about focusing on training Kenya’s medical team, not to move the Indian surgeons into the country. We aim to have a high number of cases treated in the country at a considerable fee,” said Ogolla.
80 local doctors and nurses have so far benefited from this program’s training in critical and emergency care. It is an ongoing long-term program that will target more medics from the private and public healthcare sectors.
The program is pegged on the vision 2030’s blueprint, which aims to make Kenya a newly industrialized middle-income country providing high-quality medical care.
Avenue Healthcare is a leading provider in Kenya’s health sector, with 2 hospitals based in Nairobi and Kisumu, and 16 outpatient clinics across the country.
According to the Ministry of Health, most patients in search of medical treatment abroad suffer from non-communicable diseases, including renal disease, cancer, and skeletal disorders. The services they seek include oncology, elective surgical procedures, nephrology, cardiology, and heart procedures. Cancer is ranked number three of the causes of deaths in Kenya after cardiovascular and infectious diseases.
Most patients are forced to seek treatment in India, for quality care and lower costs. The Ministry of Health notes that at least 40,000 cases of cancer are reported each year, with about 27,000 of the patients succumbing to the disease yearly. This is attributed to fragmented efforts in managing the ailment.
According to Avenue Healthcare CEO, patients will immediately have access to highly trained ICU and ER management teams. Specialty oncology clinics and renal care will also be stationed at the Avenue hospital, Parklands.
“Within the next 6 months, we aim to move into advanced tertiary care including renal transplant surgery, bariatric surgery, cardiac care, and advanced laparoscopic procedures,” noted Dr. Ogolla.
Ogolla was quick to note that the milestone cements the hospital’s position as a center of clinical excellence in the country. “This should bring to an end the recurring phenomenon of medical tourism where locals travel abroad for medical and follow-up care,” said Ogolla.
CARE Hospitals Group based in India is a multi-specialty healthcare provider delivering comprehensive care in over 30 specialties. Both Avenue and CARE are members of Evercare Group, which includes 3 other investments in Kenya including Metropolitan Hospital, Nairobi Women’s Hospital, and Ladnan Hospital as well as hospital groups in Pakistan and Nigeria.
According to the Group CEO CARE Hospital Dr. Raajiv Sighal, the partnership aims to raise the bar in the provision of emergency and critical care. “Kenya can expect quality and affordable care. We believe that this partnership will be of immense value to the population,” Raajiv said.
The collaboration aims to attain the highest possible health standards in a manner responsive to the general population by supporting the provision of affordable, equitable, and related services. It targets to attain a level of health services commensurate with that of the middle class through the attainment of specific health impact.