Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly said that foreign trips for specialised medical attention are bleeding the country of the much-needed foreign currency.
Writing in a weekly column published on the The Sunday Mail website, Mnangagwa said that the southern African nation needed to develop its own capacity.
“Many Zimbabweans are turning to foreign countries for specialised healthcare. This is very expensive for our nation,” the president said.
Mnangagwa himself and other leading government officials have sought medical treatment outside the country.
Mnangagwa said the country was spending double the amount it would need to resuscitate its collapsed health system.
Zimbabwe’s health sector collapsed under the weight of an economic ruin, lack of funding and neglect under former president Robert Mugabe’s rule.
Poor health systems in Africa
It has become a rule, not an exception to wake up in Africa with news of political leaders fleeing the shores of the continent to seek medical attention abroad.
Africa’s public health systems are in a depressing condition. Preventable diseases still kill a large number of women and children, people travel long distances to receive health care, and across the continent patients sleep on hospital floors. On top of this, Africa’s health professionals emigrate in droves to search for greener pastures.
It’s therefore not surprising that people from Africa travel abroad – mainly to Europe, North America and Asia – for their medical needs. In 2016, Africans spent over USD$6 billion on outbound treatment. Nigeria is a major contributor. Its citizens spend over USD$1 billion annually on what’s become known as medical tourism.