Is Uganda Ready to Embrace Medical Tourism?

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Uganda puts a lot of efforts in the Natural attractions especially the wildlife species such as Mountain gorillas, water resources such as Lake Victoria, Lake Bunyonyi, Rivers Nile, Semliki, Kafu and Katonga, National Parks (such as Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga, Murchison and Kidepo Valley National Parks among others), Mountains especially Elgon and Rwenzori Mountains but little or no effort is put in the potential of developing the country into a Medical Tourism destination.

This form of tourism is currently well developed in some countries such as South Africa, India, and Saudi Arabia in addition to Kenya (although not fully developed like in the developed countries). Why? These mentioned countries have well developed Medical infrastructures and services hence making them number one medical tourism destinations.

Much as Medical tourism is not developed in Uganda, there is great potential due to the numerous established Referral and National Hospitals such as Mulago, International Hospital in Kampala (with different branches that include Butabika Hospital (Case medical Center and National Mental Referral Hospital), Nsambya Hospital, and Norvik Hospital and Research  Center among others.

All these Hospitals are well positioned to make Uganda an International Health Referral or reference point where several International tourists from different parts of the country can visit to get medical assistance during Uganda vacations and safaris. With the establishment of the Catheterization Laboratory in Uganda Heart Institute within Mulago Hospital, the medical tourism sector will market the infrastructure within Uganda and to other countries within the East African region as well as the African Continent in general. This will help to attract more patients from other places like South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Kenya who would have gone to other places hence promoting Uganda safaris.

On top of the medical Centers or Hospitals, this country is also endowed with a number of hot springs that are believed to have healing powers from common diseases. The common hot springs for developing medical tourism include Sempaya and Kitagata Hot springs, which are believed to possess healing powers for several illnesses because they contain a number of minerals including Sodium Chloride, Lithium Sulphate, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium and Calcium Chloride which are all important medicinal components.

Majority of the locals and visitors from nearby and far places visit them because they also believe that hot springs have great potential in healing some diseases. Besides Sempaya and Kitagata hot springs, another prominent one believed to possess healing powers is the Amoropii hot springs in Nebbi district within North-western Uganda, hence can also be visited by tourists on Uganda safaris to experience what everyone describes as miraculous.

Hot springs in Uganda are ideal places for rehabilitation Clinics for tourists with skin diseases and disabilities. Even with Uganda’s great potential to become a medical tourism destination, the Government has not yet done much to improve the Health facilities as well as inviting expert doctors from medically developed countries like India to train Ugandan doctors on how to deal with several complicated medical cases. However with the existing medical tourism potential, there is also need to market them so as to draw more tourists on Uganda safaris hence develop this sector.

In conclusion, Uganda is a potential medical tourism destination due to the numerous existing medical centers that include Mulago National Referral Hospital, Norvik and Nsambya Hospitals as well as natural sites such as Sempaya, Kitagata and Amoropii hot springs among others. Unlike other medically developed destinations such as Kenya, South Africa, India and Saudi Arabia, the challenge faced by medical tourism in Uganda is the limited facilities and medical experts to deal with complicated diseases such as cancer and organ transplants in addition to inadequate marketing of the sector.

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