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South Africa: Country 'Well Placed' to Be Top Health Tourism Destination

by Julius Baumann ,  AllAfrica.com | 2009-07-29

Johannesburg — SA CAN accommodate up to 1-million health tourists each year and is ideally placed to the become the destination of choice for medical and cosmetic surgical procedures, Cawe Mahlati, the organiser of the inaugural Health Tourism Congress, said yesterday.

Mahlati said a strong health sector could bring down the cost of healthcare in SA. "There is a need to explore all possible avenues that would create a secondary income stream to subsidise public health. Health tourism is the low-hanging fruit," she said.

More than 300 delegates representing health facilitators, hospitals and healthcare providers, dentists and doctors, government representatives and insurers are expected to descend on Sandton today for the congress which, says Mahlati, aims to create a health tourism cluster, pulling together all stakeholders to market SA as a healthcare destination.

"The aim of the congress is to position SA as a cost-effective, quality provider of medical services, making the country a destination of choice for medical and cosmetic procedures," said Mahlati.

The congress has received the support of the government with both Deputy Health Minister Thokozile Xasa and Deputy Tourism Minister Molefi Sefularo speaking at the event.

Mahlati said that medical tourism was a fast-growing industry catering for wealthy, uninsured patients from developed nations seeking cheaper and better alternatives; Africans looking for quality healthcare not available in their own countries; and insurers hoping to contain their costs.

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