By Sola ogundipe
WHEN it comes to medical tourism, Nigerians rate amongst the most enthusiastic in the world. Tens of thousands troop to foreign hospitals every year, expending in excess of $1,000,000,000. At least 50 per cent of these patients travelling abroad are headed for destinations in Europe, Asia, America and other parts of the world.
Nigerians are travelling abroad to obtain value for money in healthcare. They want quality and affordability. Common ailments for which they travel abroad include those related to cardiology (heart disorders), orthopaedic (bone and skeletal), renal (kidney issues) and cancer. While Nigeria has enormous potential in the medical field, the facilities needed to get value, quality and affordability are unavailable.
Not even the Ibom Specialist Hospital, Uyo, fashioned after the famous RAK Hospital, Dubai, is enough to stop Nigerians from seeking medical treatment abroad. The beauty, allure and luxury of those foreign hospital rooms are simply irresistible.
In Asia, particularly India where high brow health facilities such as Primus International Super Speciality Hospital, Fortis Hospital and Apollo Hospital, among others are okay for the lowly, the well-heeled Nigerians prefer to rub shoulders with their peers from all over the world by patronising the best-of-the-best.
While thousands of the patients beg and scrape through their last savings to raise the minimal basic funds with which they can pay for their treatments in the least affordable hospitals, there are several well-heeled Nigerians who only the most luxurious and most expensive hospitals are good enough.
These “high end” hospitals offer the ultimate in healthcare— at a price—only to those able to pay. Many of these hospitals are more or less like 7-star hotels and are often described as “wellness centres.”
One of the most expensive and luxurious hospitals that exceptionally rich Nigerians patronise is the glamorous Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, California. It is one of the favourites of Hollywood celebrities and was the personal choice of the stars. Madonna, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor pick the Cedars-Sinai as their favourite.
A number of celebrity babies of Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz and Pink were delivered there in recent times.
A world leader in the research and treatment of cancer and cancer management, diabetes, and other serious diseases including cardiac surgery, nursing care, stroke care, etc., the Cedars-Sinai is a first class-rated acute care hospital handling thousands of complicated cases with near perfect rate of patient satisfaction.
The widely revered top favourite of Hollywood stars, boast luxury and ambience of the rooms that put many 5-star hotels to shame with its remarkable services and facilities.
No poor or average Nigerian will think of patronising this hospital because the cheapest private rooms start at around $1,000 each.
There are four deluxe maternity suites costing around $3,000 daily. Several Hollywood celebrities opt to give birth at the hospital. Average total payments could range between $7,000 and $26,000 depending on diagnosis and treatment.
It would be impossible to talk about luxury foreign hospitals patronised by Nigerians without mentioning the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York.
Although one of the oldest, largest and most respected hospitals in the world, Mount Sinai is probably the best ever. Because the rooms in this hospital are so luxurious, featuring hotel-like comfort and custom gourmet meals, it is rated as arguably the most expensive hospital in the world.
With about 1,200 beds, it is ranked as one of America’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in at least 12 specialities from cancer to vascular surgery. It is acclaimed internationally for excellence in clinical care.
At the Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, the expertise is in gastroenterology, liver transplants, cardiology and gynaecology. The famous hospital is a private facility offering top-notch medical and surgical services. It is considered one of the best hospitals in the world, but is beyond the poor because it costs a fortune to patronise.
Among the most expensive and luxurious Hospitals Nigerians patronise abroad is the RAK Hosptial in Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai. Established in 2007, RAK Hospital is a flagship brand of Arabian Healthcare, a joint venture company between the government of Ras Al Khaimah, and ETA Star Healthcare of Dubai. The multi-speciality hospital is managed by Sonnenhof Swiss Health Ltd, a Switzerland based healthcare company.
RAK Hospital, with international accreditation standards, established the RAK Hospital as a quality healthcare destination in the region and beyond. It was simultaneously accredited by Joint Commission International and Swiss Leading Hospitals within the first year of its operations.
The hospital is specially designed as a premium healthcare and hospitality complex by the US based architecture firm Ellerbe Becket.
Not to be left out is the Fortis La Femme Hospital in New Delhi, India. It specialises in a women medical issues from obstetrics and gynaecology, fertility treatment, cosmetic surgery, and general surgery. Another hospital is the Asklepios Klinik Barmbek Hospital in Germany and considered one of the best hospitals of the country. The standard of n its services and qualities puts it among the list of most expensive and luxurious hospitals of the world.