MEDICAL TOURISM: A RISING NICHE MARKET IN NIGERIA 

March 28, 2017

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Hey Nomads!

Its Travel Tuesday and we have a different and exciting interview today. When most people think of tourism/travel what comes to mind is adventure, experiencing cultures, visiting sites, trying out new food or even for religious purposes. However, we all know people travel to every corner of the earth for medical/health purposes and that niche market is called Medical Tourism. We found a doctor who lives in Nigeria and offers medical tourism facilitation services to Nigerians. He combines his profession and his love for travel so beautifully it makes us green with envy.  So think about it this way, when you need advice on the best location to get that Brazilian butt lift, he’s your guy! In this interview, he tells us all about Medical Tourism, the most common procedures Nigerians go out to do and the potential of Nigeria becoming a destination for medical tourists. Read and enjoy below. Instagram: @doctor_dayo

Who is Dr. Dayo Sobamowo?

I am a qualified medical doctor but now working as a healthcare management consultant. My company Hermes Consulting provides business advisory and capital raising services to healthcare providers such as governments, NGOs, companies and hospitals. We also offer medical tourism facilitation services to Nigerians. I am based in Lagos and my hobbies include traveling, swimming, tennis, cooking and wine tasting. I am also passionate about mentoring youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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At the Jemaa El-Fnaa square, Marrakesh Morocco
When you embark on a holiday, what determines your destination of choice?

My determinants for a holiday destination include: a rich culture, good local cuisine, historical monuments, a vibrant nightlife and outdoor activities.

What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism can be defined as healthcare provision which involves traveling form your primary geographical location. It could be domestic medical tourism e.g.  traveling from one city in Nigeria to another, or traveling to another country i.e. international medical tourism.

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What informs a patient’s decision to seek medical assistance out of their country? 

It could be as a result of lack of the required medical expertise or medical equipment. It could also because of lower prices, which is the main driver of outbound medical tourism in first world countries like the USA. Another reason is to avoid long waiting times for procedures offered under a national health insurance program such as the British NHS. Many Britons prefer to pay for surgical procedures abroad rather than wait up to 1 year to have it done free of charge in their home country.

In your opinion, what do you think is the most common procedures Nigerians go out to do and their most visited country?

The most common procedures include: cancer care (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy), childbirth, cosmetic surgery, trauma and orthopedic surgery, fertility treatments including IVF, medical checkups and kidney transplants.

The most visited countries are India, USA, UK, Germany, South Africa and UAE.

We know that lack of trust in the system is one of the reasons Nigerians go out of the country to seek medical assistance. Can you share some other reasons with us?

Many Nigerians travel for medical care because they require privacy. For example, a Nigerian celebrity or politician who has cancer or HIV will not want such a diagnosis to become public knowledge.

Some Nigerians also want to combine a procedure with a holiday at an exotic location. E.g. recovering from a tummy tuck on a sunny beach in Miami.

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Birth Tourism. Everyone is having their baby in the US these days! Has the new US immigration laws affected anyone’s chances of having a baby abroad?

For now only those countries on the restricted travel list are affected, but one cannot predict what else lies in Trump’s bag of tricks!

US or Canada for birth tourism? 

I guess it depends on the choice of the intending parents, but I think Canada is a better choice due to its generous social security policies such as free healthcare and education for its citizens.

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We hear that Brazil is one of the best places to get any cosmetic surgeries done. Is this true? What’s the best country to get a liposuction, or an abdominoplasty done? 

Brazil is good for cosmetic surgery but not the best in my opinion. Some specific procedures such as “butt lift” have however been perfected by Brazilian plastic surgeons. America has the best cosmetic surgeons in the world and would therefore be my recommendation for a lipo or abdominoplasty if high cost is not a barrier. Other countries I would recommend include Turkey, Thailand and Malaysia.

South Africa is one of the African countries where people visit for medical tourism. What otherAfrican countries are flocked by medical tourists? Do you see Nigeria ever becoming a destination for particular procedures? 

Morocco and Egypt are also big medical tourism destinations in Africa. Nigeria has the potential to be a destination for procedures like IVF and cancer care. While Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure is currently in an abysmal state, it is still superior to some of its regional neighbors such as Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast. This can be a major driver of medical tourists to Nigeria.

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Can you recommend locations(within Nigeria) for adequate cancer treatment and HIV maintenance drugs?

Cancer treatment and HIV maintenance drugs can be gotten in major cities like Lagos, Ibadan, Zaria and Abuja.

Every avid traveler has a travel bucket list. What’s on yours?

As a history buff, I would love to visit as many UNESCO world heritage sites as possible. Some of the world heritage sites I have visited include the Taj Mahal in India, Goreme national park in Cappadocia Turkey and the Hierapolis ruins in Pammukale Turkey. I have also visited Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE, the UK, USA, Switzerland. South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana, Benin and Togo. My yet to be ticked bucket list includes the Maldives, Pyramids of Egypt, Cuba, Phuket, Australia and Japan.

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Do you do more of work or leisure travel?

95% of my travel is for work but I am a die-hard nomad so I always manage to squeeze in a few days of tourist activity into any work trip. Lol!

Medical Tourism is a niche market in Nigeria and all over the world; Any tips for doctors trying to explore this field?

Doctors trying to explore this field need to invest in traveling to some medical tourist destinations. This is essential to build business relationships with foreign hospitals and medical personnel. I would also recommend attending international medical tourism conferences and exhibitions which I have found to be excellent avenues for networking and acquiring industry knowledge.

*After this interview we begin to research and found some interesting facts that might interest you:

  • In 2014, the Medical Tourism Industry in India was valued at over $3 billion and its projected to hit $6 billion in  2018.
  • The World Health Organization ranks Costa Rica’s health care system slightly higher than the US.
  • Contrary to popular belief that Medical Tourism is driven by wealthy elite seeking elective surgeries, it is driven by middle class individuals seeking cheaper health care.
  • The Brazilian butt lift has nothing to do with Brazil. It was not even invented in Brazil.
  • A sand bath in Merzouga, Morocco helps with treating Rheumatism and Neuromuscular pain.

We hope you loved this interview as much as we did. Have you ever been a medical tourist? Would you have made the same decision if adequate personnel and facilities were available in Nigeria? 


By Nomad Supreme

Welcome to the go-to spot for adventure seeking Nigerians 👣👣👣! 👻: @naijanomads 💌: travel@naijanomads.com

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Unravelling Nigeria

    Sigh, please I’m not sure about Nigerian health care. One time a popular private hospital here diagnosed my friend wrongly. Heads to the UK and turns out it was cancer. If the hospital in Nigeria had done the surgery for their wrong diagnosis, he would have died.

    1. Reply

      Naija Nomads

      Lol! I agree with you but I also understand where he is coming from. He stated the health structure is at an abysmal state but its still superior countries like Benin Republic, Togo and Ivory Coast. Though I would love to bash Nigerian doctors but there are some EXCELLENT ones out there, most of which are in government hospitals. I think the system also makes them the way they are because these same doctors go out of the country and are the best among their peers.

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