As part of efforts to boost the health sector, Nigeria has partnered with The Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA) to ensure Nigerians get quality services in the country.

The partnership would see medical expertise from Dubai come to Nigeria to render their services, thereby lessen the burden of Nigerians moving abroad for treatment.

Director Medical Tourism Council, Dubai, Dr. Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, said that the partnership entails exchange of knowledge and experience and it is of mutual benefit for both countries.

Al Marzouqi revealed that the Nigerian government is dedicated in facilitating the road show as they have already discussed with the Military and Police hospitals to exchange expertise in terms of neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and also coming from Dubai to do operations for patients, who the hospitals have arranged and then the complicated cases, will be taken back to Dubai for treatment.She added: “We are to strengthen the partnership and develop more collaboration, it is a win- win end situation for both of us, the Brian, the expert, in the terms of operations we do. We are not competing with anyone we are just unique in services we provide and also outstanding. We get easy connection with Nigeria, its quite closer. There are direct and regular flights, our national carriers fly to Nigeria very often and the visa can be issued within 48 hours once your medical report is presented and it is renewable after three months.”

Al Marzouqi said that they got hospital that treat cases here in Nigeria and bring the complicated cases to Dubai, boasting of more than 3000 facilities and more than 27 hospitals.

She continued: “Dubai has got a very good visa scheme for medical tourism visas anybody that likes to come for treatment in Dubai. We can accommodate influx of people and Dubai is half an hour from other emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), so if the influx is too much we can send them to the other parts. We will explore new areas for collaboration and hospitals in Dubai is open for Nigeria to utilize and one of the best thing is that the Dubai has got the tourism and we got strong and robust method of getting medical complaints and government takes care of that. We also got medical tourism insurance and this happens if complications occurs which is quite affordable.”

In sustaining the partnership, the Director said: “We have 15 hospitals that came with us today and they have different speciality. We got one of the charity hospitals with us as well which is not meant for profit. It has been in Dubai for the past 45years and they have mentioned they can do plastic surgery and cardiac surgery here in Nigeria. We think basically this is a new project and we are going to involve more facilities so that everyone will do something so that the system can be sustained.”

The Dubai-Africa Partnership for Better Health is broadly defined as travel across international borders with the purpose of availing medical treatment, which may or may not be available in one’s own country.

It is believed to be the fastest growing segment of tourism, growing from 16 per cent to 30 per cent annually (depending on the country) and it aims to attract 500,000 international medical tourists from around the world to the emirate by 2020.

Dubai-based healthcare providers from a range of specialities will service international medical tourists, including cosmetic surgery; paediatrics; orthopaedics; obstetrics and gynaecology; cardiology; general diagnostics; neuro-surgery; and health experience.

She said West Africa is so important to international health tourism for Dubai because international medical tourists to Dubai come from around the world however Africa represents one of the largest sources. West Africa is Africa’s largest regional market for international medical tourism, with Nigeria representing the largest market, followed by Ghana.

According to Al Marzouqi, “Nigeria represents 40 per cent of all medical tourism from Africa, followed by North African countries at 30 per cent and South Africa 29 per cent. Average cost per medical treatment is $15,000 USD in Nigeria. Ghana is the second largest source of international medical tourists from West Africa,” she said.

The Dubai-Africa Partnership for Better Health focuses entirely on Africa this year, with different legs planned for its different regions. As such, the launch of Dubai-Africa Partnership for Better Health Roadshow is timely and provides important support to Dubai-based healthcare providers to meet future growth targets for attracting international medical tourists from Africa.

The first leg of the Dubai-Africa Partnership for Better Health is planned for West Africa, where Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana will be visited. The roadshow in Lagos will also be inviting visitors from Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, which cannot be visited due to logistical reasons because its airport is closed for maintenance until summer of 2017.The Roadshow will be held at high-end hotels for two full days in each city where key stakeholders identified in collaboration with Dubai Health Authority, Emirate Airlines, and the organizers from those markets will visit the Roadshow. The Roadshow departed Dubai for Lagos, Nigeria on March 15 before moving to Accra in Ghana on March 19 in a single round-trip, which returned to Dubai on March 22.

“The first leg of this ground-breaking medical tourism roadshow will boost efforts to grow the position of Dubai as an international destination for medical tourism and help you attract more patients from West Africa for 2017 and the years ahead. The Dubai-Africa Partnership for Better Health launch in Africa represents an important market capture opportunity for Dubai-based healthcare providers,” she said.

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