The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has formed a new working committee focused on promoting inbound and intrabound medical travel to and within Kenya. On February 4, 2016, the group held its second meeting at the KTB office in Nairobi in conjunction with the visit of A&K Global Health Chief Executive Officer, Morgan Darwin.
The KTB has long been successful in promoting Kenya’s natural attractions, like safaris, and warm cultural hospitality to the international tourist market. But the Kenya Health Tourism Strategy published in August 2014 issued a new challenge to the KTB: “to market Kenya as a destination hub for healthcare services as well as a health improvement destination.” Given our expertise and connections as a facilitator of local through international medical treatment for Kenyan and East African patients, A&K Global Health was natural partner in realizing the strategy’s vision.
Now, the working committee is stepping up its activities. The purpose of this recent meeting was to capitalize on the presence of Mr. Darwin in Nairobi to chart a way forward between the KTB and A&K Global Health in jointly promoting Kenya as a medical travel destination and hub in East Africa. The immediate outcome of the meeting was a collaboratively prepared concept note, informed by A&K Global Health’s experience in the region and in healthcare management, and outlining how the company will work hand in hand with the KTB to increase inbound as well as intrabound medical tourism.
“For inbound medical travel, it is key that Kenya have a high level of acceptability among local doctors in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan,” explains Stephen Masinde, A&K Global Health’s Kenya National Director. Thanks to A&K Global Health’s presence in each of these countries – as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda – Mr. Masinde and his colleagues across the continent know just how to build the foundation for those relationships of clinical and professional trust. To ensure that African healthcare providers and health ministries are confident sending their patients to Kenya, A&K Global Health, the KTB and the Ministry of Health are organizing a medical tourism conference to showcase Kenya’s treatment offerings. “The idea is to invite key African health leaders to Nairobi for this event,” says Mr. Masinde, “to see what Kenyan physicians can do, and to encourage patients from those countries to travel inbound.”
The support of Kenyan physicians themselves is also critical in driving inbound medical travel. Historically, “most Kenyan doctors have viewed medical travel facilitators with a degree of suspicion because we assist their patients in traveling abroad, which some perceive as denying them the opportunity to treat the patient. Of course that is not the case: we only transfer cases that cannot be treated locally,” Mr. Masinde explains. “With a more robust inbound medical travel model, our Kenyan physicians will in fact be able to receive a greater number of patients from other African countries than the number of patients they send abroad.” Leveraging our extensive professional network within the Kenyan healthcare sector, A&K Global Health is helping the KTB raise awareness among Kenyan physicians of the opportunities inherent for them in growing inbound medical travel.
Steps are also underway to expand intrabound medical travel – that is, Kenyans traveling outside their own city or region but remaining within Kenya to receive care. Already, A&K Global Health is planning a medical camp in partnership with Nairobi West Hospital to present to Kenyans outside Nairobi the hospital’s capable practitioners and their expanding services and medical technology. While A&K Global Health regularly hosts medical camps throughout Kenya, to date they have featured only foreign medical specialists. Mr. Masinde emphasizes the pivotal nature of this occasion: “It’s incredible to start operating with national doctors doing a medical camp.”
This collaboration between the KTB and A&K Global Health is well on its way to generating exciting results for both organizations – and, most importantly, higher quality and more accessible, affordable healthcare for millions of individuals in Kenya and East Africa. Follow future developments in Kenya’s inbound and intrabound medical travel here on the A&K Global Health blog.
In the photograph above: A&K Global Health CEO Morgan Darwin signs the KTB visitor book while KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa looks on. Standing behind them, from left to right, are Allan Njoroge (KTB Company Secretary/Head of Legal & Corporate Affairs), Reuben Kangogo (A&K Global Health Kenya Operations Director), Mary Luseka (KTB Strategy & Development Manager), Fred Okeyo (KTB Product Manager) and Stephen Masinde (A&K Global Health Kenya National Director).
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