Turkey eyeing medical tourism from Africa

ADDIS ABABA 

Turkey, which has become a popular destination for health tourism, is eyeing medical visitors from Africa.

The Turkish health sector offers services at par with Europe and the U.S. but at more affordable rates.

Ali Ozturk, the head of medical consultancy company Care in Turkey, recalled the Africa Initiative launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the early 2000s.

“The Turkish hospitals established in Sudan and Somalia enabled us to see the demand for quality health service more clearly in Africa,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Ahmet Aksu, the chair of Health Diplomacy Association, said the number of foreign patients in Turkey was at tens of thousands six years ago. Now, it has surpassed a million.

“As of this year, revenues reached $3 billion and there is potential to increase this figure,” he added.

Turkey competes with Thailand and India for prices and Europe and the U.S. for quality, he recalled.

Aksu stressed Turkey is leading in organ transplantation, especially of the liver and kidney.

“While a tourist brings $1,000 to Turkey on average, an African medical tourist brings $10,000 to the country on average,” he highlighted.

For improving medical tourism, Turkey should ease the visa process for medical tourists from Africa, he added.

Ebla Abdi Farah, who came to Turkey for dental treatment, said: “The problem in my teeth bothered me for months. It was resolved after treatment in Turkey.”

“Treatment and hygiene exceeded world standards. I completed my treatment at a very reasonable price. Turkey was like our home,” he added.

*Writing by Gokhan Ergocun from Istanbul
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