Medical tourism is on the rise in Nigeria, with estimates suggesting the industry is growing by 15-25% each year. Nigerians travel abroad for medical care for a number of reasons, the primary one being the non-availability of capacity for treatment of most serious health challenges locally. As long as our healthcare system remains in a deplorable state, people will continue to seek medical care abroad.
However, going abroad for treatment is not all positive. In fact, some Nigerians that travel abroad come worse off than they were before. Thus, if you are part of the increasing numbers of Nigerians who are planning to seek certain treatment abroad, here is a list of important things to do before embarking on your medical tourism.
1. Consult your local doctor
Your doctor needs to be involved in the process. First, he will need to write a medical report that will state your medical history, why you are seeking care abroad, what care you need (based on his understanding) and any other details that will help the foreign doctors understand your needs and design an appropriate treatment plan.
Another reason your local doctor needs to be involved is that for a lot of cases, post-op management is important and this can only be provided effectively by your local doctor if he has details of the treatment given to you abroad. It is also crucial for patients suffering from respiratory, cardiac, bariatric and neuro-surgical disorders who are vulnerable and might require medication and appropriate preparatory treatment for embarking on the journey
The costs of a medical procedure can vary between different hospitals and countries. You should consider and compare the price range of different destinations in order to know which one is affordable to you. Although quality should never be compromised for cost, the actual expenses are, nevertheless, an important factor to consider. Aside from the costs of the treatment itself (which, again, should not be the deciding factor), the accommodation, transportation, and living costs can vary from country to country. It might be in your best interest to opt for a country that is relatively less expensive, as long as the quality of care is good.
3. Research possible hospitals in detail
Before settling down on a hospital, you need to do a thorough assessment of the hospital (s) you are considering. The fact that a particular country has a positive reputation for healthcare quality does not mean all hospitals in that country will be of equal quality. To settle on a hospital, you need to do your assessment on:
- Certifications: A good hospital should have local and international accreditation. These are proofs of their staff qualifications and commitment to medical standards. Specific accreditations that you may look out for include JCAHO, ISO, JCI and national accreditations (like NABH for India), etc.
- Awards: Any award that the hospital has won is also a reliable indicator of its quality.
- Affiliation: Affiliation and research collaboration with reputable medical schools like Harvard Medical School, John Hopkins Medical School etc is a good point to take into consideration.
- Patients’ reviews: If there are numerous positive reviews, you can be more confident in your choice. Please note that reviews/testimonials on the hospital’s websites are not always dependable. You should endeavor to look for reviews from neutral websites.
- Staff Pedigree: Aside from the hospital, you should also get to know about their doctors/ surgeons. Did they graduate from good medical schools? What professional body do they belong to How many years of experience do they have? Do they have any medical awards/ certificates?
- Language: Communication is key in every human endeavor and medical tourism is no exception. Opt for hospitals & clinics where the staff, especially the clinical ones, can speak English or your mother tongue. Otherwise, you run the risk of miscommunication and failure in treatment. If that is not achievable, make sure there is a qualified translator available to help you.
4. Prepare all the necessary documents
Before going overseas for medical treatment, make sure to bring along the following papers:
- Previous medical records: These include documents relating to your medical history and previous treatments, including X-ray reports, immunization records, prescriptions, attestations from your doctors about any unusual drugs (e.g. narcotic-containing drugs) that you may be taking.
- Passport & visa: These are essential for you to enter any country aside from your own. As a Nigerian, this is especially a key factor to consider. Most countries will scrutinize your visa application thoroughly. Hence, you should get educated about the visa issuance requirement of the particular country you want to go to and make sure you are well prepared. Also, note that the visa application procedures are sometimes very complicated and can take up to months, so plan this ahead of time.
- Credit cards, debit cards, and travelers’ checks: You should always have local currency, travelers’ checks and one or two major credit and debit cards.
As a Nigerian traveler, please note that you have to declare any amount above $5000 you are travelling with.
5. Quality and specialization
You should also think about the specialization of the region and the country you are considering. While most countries do meet the common healthcare standards, they can have a reputation for a certain field or specific procedures. For example, some countries may be hotspots of fertility treatment, while others may have a reputation for organ transplants. In even within countries, hospitals have their own areas of excellence.
6. Get ready for an extended stay
In most cases, you will have to stay abroad for some time. This is because you need time for recovery and post-treatment observation. Also, be reminded that the initial treatment plan given to you is tentative based on the medical report you provided, actual treatment might actually be different depending on what your physical examination and tests reveal. Hence, keep this in mind before applying for a visa, as you may be asked about your expected time of stay in the foreign country.
7. Always consider traveling with an attendant
For most surgical treatments, you will be required to travel with a companion to act as your attendant. In many cases, the treatment that you have traveled for will leave you weakened for some time before being able to function normally again. A traveling companion can provide you with the physical and mental support that you will likely need before, during, and after the journey.
We Can Help You Get Quality and Affordable Medical Treatment Abroad
Medvisit is West Africa’s leading medical tourism agency that helps patients get quality and affordable medical treatment for various ailments in India, Israel, UAE, Iran, UK, and Germany. With branches in Nigeria and India, Medvisit remains the number one choice of health tourists.
For assistance, please call 08182522015 or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.