Medical tourism industry, which is estimated by the World Health Organisation to be worth $100 billion – is projected to grow by up to 25 per cent year-on-year for the next 10 years. This is according to s report by VISA and Oxford Economics. It says that three to four per cent of the world’s population will travel internationally for treatment. Here is a list of the top medical destinations across the globe according to Medical Tourism Index in the International Medical Travel Journal.
Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world, maintaining the top spot in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries.
According to Bloomberg, Singapore is among the top countries with the most efficient healthcare systems in 2014, above 50 other countries. Seeking health care in Singapore saves a patient 25 per cent to 40 per cent of what they would have spent on the same services in the US.
India is one of the key players in the medical tourism industry as it strives to provide health care services with cutting-edge technology. Healthcare in India saves patients around 65 per cent to 90 per cent of the money they would have spent on similar services in the US, making India one of the most visited countries for health care. Additionally, in India, there is close to zero waiting time, as scheduling surgery or intervention is done quickly once the diagnosis is confirmed.
Turkey is a strong contender in the medical tourism market. Turkey boasts zero waiting times, affordable and quality healthcare delivery. It has a huge number of specialists specifically in transplants, radiation therapy for cancer, orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, and genomic medicine.What’s more, the country’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, offers flight rates at discounted prices to medical travellers.
Cost of receiving quality healthcare in Turkey is 50 to 65 per cent lower than in the United States. The European country’s friendly visa regulations have spurred the sector as patients from Asia and Africa also access medi-care in Istanbul or Ankara.
WHO ranks Brazil as the best in healthcare delivery in Latin America. Brazil has 43 hospitals accredited by JCI and has world-renowned surgeons. Brazil is the third most visited country after US and China for cosmetic and plastic surgery. Brazil offers high quality cosmetic and plastic surgical services at affordable rates. Florianopolis and Sao Paulo are two cities in Brazil best known for cutting-edge medical technology, medical advances, and innovation. Health travellers from the US save 20 to 30 per cent on health cost if they receive their health treatment in Brazil.
Mexico is most reputed for advanced care in dentistry and cosmetic surgery. It has 98 hospitals accredited by the country’s Federal Health Ministry and seven JCI accredited hospitals.Medical care in Mexico saves a patient 40 to 65 per cent compared to the cost of similar services in the US. With the availability of a large pool of specialists, trained in US and Canada, this country is fairly well resourced to take care of internal and external patients in need of health services.
Malaysia has won the number one spot in the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for “Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the year” in 2015 and 2016. Malaysia ranks among the best providers of healthcare in all of South-East Asia. Health travellers save 65 to 80 per cent on health cost compared to the cost of treatment in the US.
The Eastern Asian country offers excellent patient comfort with five-star rooms that look more like hotel suites than hospital rooms. In Prince Court Medical Centre, for example, there are indoor pools for hydrotherapy.
Having the highest number of internationally accredited hospitals in South-East Asia, Thailand draws a good number of medical travellers each year.
The country has advanced dental as well as cosmetic and dermatological procedures. Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, accredited by Global Health Accreditation for medical services, is one of the best hospitals in Thailand, providing advanced healthcare services to more than 400,000 medical tourists annually. Medical services in Thailand save a patient 50 to 75 per cent on medical expenses they would have incurred for similar services in the USA.
The Central American country has been ranked high in dentistry and cosmetic surgery, above Canada and US, consistently in the last few years.
The country is also building a name in the fields of eye surgery, cancer therapy, and bariatric surgery.TheCheTica Ranch, located in San Jose, provides exotic recovery retreats for medical travellers who relish recovery in a relaxing ambiance.This ranch is also staffed with highly-trained nurses to cater to the medical needs of these patients as they recover. Cost of healthcare services in Costa Rica is 45 to 65 per cent lower than in the US.
South Africa has highly skilled medical personnel and advanced healthcare infrastructure. It has been making medical advances, with statistics showing that in 2014, between 300,000 and 350,000 tourists from Africa travelled to SA for medical treatment. For Europeans and travellers from the Americas and Asia, South Africa offers an affordable alternative for many cosmetic procedures, thanks to the weak rand. For example, a breast augmentation procedure that costs $8,000 (P85, 948.00) in the UK would cost about $3, 600 (P38, 676.60) in SA, according to Medical Tourism SA, a consultancy firm that offers health care information for medical travellers.
The East African country might be a small player in the big health league, however, its centrality and more advanced economy is a plus.
The capital Nairobi has some of the continent’s excellent health facilities, that is, Aga Khan, Nairobi and Karen hospitals who have employed highly skilled personnel and invested in training their employees.
With the planned Universal Health Care earmarked as a major pillar of the Big Four agenda, at least 50 per cent of the more that 150 million people in the region could benefit in the long term.
Don’t use garlic for yeast infections
Public Health Specialist, Dr Orapeleng Phuswane-Katse has warned women against using garlic for yeast infections, citing risk for further infections.She explained that while there are a few studies to support the claim that garlic has anti-fungal properties, it is never safe to put anything that is not regulated in the vaginal area.
On Monday, a woman took to social media to seek a remedy describing her symptoms as itchiness and a white discharge from her private area. Out of the 375 comments that she got, almost half advised her to insert garlic into her genital area. The comments indicated that the symptoms would disappear within three days.
“I remember I had the same problem back in 2017, I could not stand the itchiness, a friend of mine advised me to insert garlic, and within two days it was gone,” wrote one commentator. Another one wrote: “Take a clove of fresh garlic and peel off the natural white shell that covers it, leaving the clove intact. At bedtime, put the clove in the private area. “In the morning, remove the garlic clove and throw it in the toilet. I did this one time, if the itchiness goes on, continue for one or two days until all the itchiness is gone.”
However, Dr Phuswane-Katse advised that the only alternative is to see a doctor when one has the symptoms.“The vagina is a fragile moist area that has bacteria that regulates the PH in there. Any foreign objects can cause laceration and even introduce unwanted bacteria that can cause more harm than good”. Furthermore, she added, “There is no regulated size of the garlic to insert and this may pose danger.
Questions like, ‘how many hours do you remove it, in what state should you insert it, crushed or whole’? Since its not regulated medicine, there can be no clear answer”. Dr Tebogo Oleseng, a gynaecologist and obstetrician said women need to be more careful, saying that the birth canal is the ‘perfect’ environment for the botulism bacteria to grow, which can be life-threatening.
Botulism, a condition caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, can be offset when someone eats food containing toxins because it has not been properly canned, preserved or cooked.
He advised women not to take medical advice from anyone recommending vaginal garlic for yeast or anything else because there are antifungal drugs specifically for yeast infection. He explained that garlic contains allicin, which in the lab has shown to have antifungal properties. “Bacteria from the soil can be pathogenic for the body. That is why we clean wounds. If you actually happen to have an inflamed yeasty vagina, soil bacteria would be more likely to infect it,” he said.
Caroline Gartland speaks on Children and Mental Health
Tell us about yourself and your background
I’m originally from the UK but have been in Botswana for eight years so this is now home! I have a Combined Honours degree in Psychology an MSc in Mental Health and have had a pretty varied career.
I started off working with offenders doing rehabilitation programmes; went on to support the victims of domestic violence then ended up working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for the National Health Service.
I’ve done a lot of work, mainly voluntary, in different fields since being in Botswana but my passion is now Early Childhood Mental Health.
What does your work entail?
Early childhood mental health is mainly working with parents, caregivers and teachers to help them understand how children develop and the best ways to support their mental health and brain development as they grow. It’s about providing training and opportunities for families to bond with their children and introducing new ways of playing and interacting.
What sparked your interest in early childhood mental health?
Quite simply, having my own children! My daughter was born five years ago and I was fascinated watching her develop and grow. It occurred to me that the younger you begin to consider mental health and provide tools for resilience against life’s adversities, the better outcomes you are likely to have.
I began reading everything I could get my hands on, and completed a diploma in Infant Mental Health. I’ve worked down the lifespan but I feel I’m now where I belong, working with babies and young children.
What mental health issues have you observed in children in Botswana?
Mental Health is still stigmatised around the world and Botswana is no exception. Most people immediately think of mental illness, but mental health is about so much more; we all have mental health and some days we are fine and able to deal with life’s challenges and some days we need more support and tools under our belt to help us cope.
Young children can experience mental health problems. Anxiety is a common one, but we are more likely to focus on the behaviour we see rather than how the child is feeling. An anxious child who refuses to go to school may be labelled as ‘difficult’ or ‘naughty’ but what they are expressing is a painful emotion that they need help dealing with.
Describe one thing you find fulfilling and challenging about working in this industry.
Working with children and families is a pleasure and a privilege. To make life a little bit easier for someone is all that matters, you don’t have to be out there saving the world to make a difference.
My major challenge is time. I would love to do more, I’d love to do an MSc in play therapy and a couple of other therapeutic techniques I’ve come across in Europe but that gets put on hold as I focus on my own family and business.
Can you share an anecdote about how mental health consultation works?
I think that education, understanding and connection are the three keys to giving a child the best start in life. Led by that, SensoBaby provides classes in the community for parents and caregivers to connect with their infants.
We offer workshops on parenting and play to foster understanding of child development and wellbeing and we are available to troubleshoot specific problems an individual or agency has with the young children in their care or the systems they have in place. When it comes to individual parents, mostly what they need is to feel heard, supported and guided in their parenting choices.
You can read all the baby books in the world but they won’t give you the answers you need for your child, through responsive parenting and connection, you’ll find you have the solutions you need.
What advice do you have for child-care providers or early childhood teachers who are at their wits’ end over a child’s challenging behaviour but don’t have access to a consultant?
Empathy is an important and undervalued skill – the ability to consider another’s viewpoint. What is that child feeling? Their behaviour might be challenging and hard to deal with but often the root cause is an unmet need. There’s a famous quote from an American Clinical Psychologist, “The children who need love the most, will ask for it in the most unloving ways.”
Does a mother’s mental health affect her foetus? How important would you say is paying attention to women’s well being during pregnancy as with their physical well being?
100% yes. It is so important to support a woman’s wellbeing during pregnancy. As an example, if the mother experiences significant stress and rising levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) during pregnancy, the foetus will be affected and in some cases will be more sensitive to stress in childhood or later in life.
Pregnant women and new families (Dads as well!) deserve nurturing care themselves and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for support. SensoBaby run FREE monthly coffee mornings to support pregnant and new mothers because we understand the importance of maternal wellbeing.
Do smart phones and television make our children mentally ill as is often purported?
I don’t think technology is always the villain it’s made out to be. The key is in the relationship with that technology. Moderate use of TV’s and smart phones are fine, as long as they aren’t a substitute for outdoor play, imaginative play and meaningful interactions. If a child is crying or upset and we hand them a device to keep them quiet then we have missed an important opportunity for connection, helping them process what is going on and supporting them to calm down and settle themselves.
Now, I know you are involved in an exciting programme that helps caregivers and children to bond and get the children off to the best start in life through play. Can you say a little bit about that work and just how you are seeing it play out?
SensoBaby is our baby; a project born from passion and a desire to support families in Botswana. We offer play-based classes for children and their caregivers that are underpinned by the principles of child wellness as well as early foundations for learning.
When you provide developmentally appropriate opportunities to play, you learn so much about your child. That understanding and observation builds strong connections, which will form the basis of that child’s future relationships and self esteem. Play is so much more than ‘a fun activity.’
We offer a number of trainings and workshops for parents, nannies and community stakeholders and hope to increase our offerings this year. Our community partnerships and voluntary programmes have been successful so far and we hope to see more impact in 2018.
We currently serve the Gaborone community but would like to expand throughout Botswana as opportunities arise. The response to SensoBaby has been fantastic so far and we can’t wait to see how far we can go with the concept!
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