Making Ghana the Medical Tourism Centre for West Africa- ( 1)


There have been calls and plans to make Ghana the centre for Medical Tourism in West Africa. Recently Senior Presidential Advisor Yaw Osafo-Maafo charged the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital to focus on developing some of its centres for medical tourism. He said the establishment of the National Radiotherapy Oncology and Nuclear Medicine Centre has contributed to boosting medical tourism as people from other countries travel to Ghana to seek medical care.

“The National Centre for Radiotherapy Oncology and Nuclear Medicine have saved this country huge amount of foreign exchange because you can imagine those we are treating now if they were all to be finding treatment outside our shores…all this now taking place here. But most important thing is that the Centre is developing what I call medical tourism. A lot of people in the sub-region are coming down to get treatment from that Centre and this is one big advantage Korle-Bu should take as a policy to develop some centres as medical tourist centres because people believe in the Ghanaian skills and people will come down within our sub-region to get treatment and pay for it in dollars,” he said.

I attended a function in Volta Region and the medical superintendent of the hospital emphasized that they receive patients from Togo and Benin. This indeed confirms that Ghana is on the way to be a hub for medical tourism in West Africa. What is needed is to develop a strategic plan.

What is Medical tourism?

Medical Tourism

There is no general consensus on the definition of medical tourism. Some definitions are broad. For example, Deloitte (2008) defines medical tourism as the ‘act of travelling to another country to seek specialized or economical medical care, well-being and recuperation’. Such a definition may be interpreted as including travel that seeks to enhance personal health and well-being, including through authentic and location-based therapies.  Wellness tourism, is sometimes included in a broad definition of the medical tourism industry, thus some studies use the term medical and wellness tourism instead of medical tourism alone. Other definitions are much narrower, considering only travel for the purpose of receiving treatment for a disease, ailment or medical procedure.

One may ask; is Medical tourism the same as Health tourism?

What is Health Tourism?

According to a report entitled Medical and Wellness, Lesson from Asia, Health tourism encompasses both medical tourism (based on western medicines) and wellness tourism (based on traditional therapies such as Ayurveda). She refers to medical tourism as the act of travelling to foreign countries to seek ‘western-style’ medicine treatments and procedures (elective surgeries such as cosmetic, dental and plastic surgery as well as specialized surgeries such as knee/hip replacement, cardiac surgery, cancer treatments, fertility, orthopaedic therapy etc.). Wellness tourism, on the other hand refers to authentic or location-based experiences/therapies such as Yoga, Ayurveda, use of local medicines etc. The main difference between health tourism and medical tourism is that health tourism does not involve any medical treatment or procedure. Health tourists usually travel to other countries to seek alternative treatments for conditions that cannot be treated in their home country. Medical tourism, on the other hand, involves traveling to another country for medical treatment or procedures. Medical tourists often travel to countries where the cost of medical care is cheaper than in their home country. They may also travel to countries with better medical facilities and more experienced doctors. Ghana offers other alternatives form of treatment apart from treatments in Korle- Bu. These other form of tourists

According to, the global medical tourism market accounted for USD 11.7 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 35.9 billion by 2032, exhibiting a CAGR of 12.2% in the forecast period (2023-2032). Medical tourists travel internationally to improve their health and access low-cost healthcare services unavailable in their home country. Tourists can receive various medical services, including dental, neurological, or cardiovascular treatments. Medical Tourism offers many benefits, including improved hospitality, personalized care, cutting-edge technology, and novel medicines. It also provides better healthcare.

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Key Takeaway:

  • By service type, the medical treatment section dominated the market in 2022 because of the increase in the demand for medical processes dental, orthopedic, cardiology, and spine.
  • By service provider type, the private segment dominated the market in 2022 because the number of providers giving world-class facilities is increasing.
  • In 2022, North America dominated the market with the highest revenue share of 35%.
  • Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at a high CAGR during the forecast period due to the increasing preference for medical tourism in the region.

Insufficient insurance profits and lack of local healthcare insurance are two factors that will encourage market expansion. The industry’s growth is also supported by the increasing demand for services that are not covered, such as dental reconstruction, common removal surgery, aesthetic surgery, and reproductive therapy.

Factors affecting the growth of the medical tourism industry?

Several factors can affect the growth of the medical tourism industry. Some of these factors include:

  • Low-cost surgeries: Countries like India and Thailand are providing fast and low-cost surgeries, positively affecting the market growth.
  • Increasing quality of surgeries: The increase in the accessibility of high medical-quality surgeries, like cardiovascular and dental surgeries, is one of the major driving factors for the market growth.
  • Technological advancements: The use of advanced technologies in healthcare industries, especially in medical devices, surgical processes, etc., is affecting the market positively.
  • Declining COVID-19 cases: As the COVID-19 cases began to decrease, the travel restrictions also have been lifted, which is helping the market grow further.

Top Trends in Global Medical Tourism Market

The most important trend driving the growth of the global medical tourism market is active consumer preference for cosmetic procedures. As COVID-19 cases began to decline, travel restrictions have been removed, and the demand for postponed or delayed functions has grown. As people have become more aware of their appearance and personal care, cosmetic procedures such as body fat removal and treatment for acne have seen an increase in demand. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive surgery (AAFPRS) reported increased appointments and treatments for facelifts, eyelifts, and other procedures, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. People are more inclined to choose these procedures in countries with skilled specialists and high-quality care. This will positively impact the market’s growth over the forecast period.

Market Growth

The world is becoming more open to utilizing advanced medical technology in surgery, medical devices, and related healthcare. Patients can now access information and communication technology, telemedicine, and telehealth worldwide. As a result, they can consult, book appointments with specialists, and receive high-quality care without hesitation. This has resulted in an increase in inbound tourism to developing countries like India and Thailand. In addition, the availability of quality medical structures and lower costs have led to a greater demand for affordable treatment, helping the market grow.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.

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