In 2014 the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association (ENAHPA) was planning to establish a Medical Zone in Addis Ababa, with the blessing and help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora Engagement Affairs Directorate-General. This initiative would help Addis Ababa become a Medical Health Tourism Destination.
The Diaspora Affairs Directorate General was established with the aim of meeting the needs of the growing number of Ethiopians and Ethiopian Diaspora residing abroad interested in contributing to Ethiopia’s development and wellbeing. Moreover, the Directorate-General liaises closely with Ethiopian missions abroad in order to encourage the participation of the Ethiopian Diaspora in investment, tourism and trade, as well as technology transfer. The Directorate-General is also tasked with organizing the annual Diaspora Day celebrations which highlight the achievements of the Diaspora and encourage their heightened participation in their country of origin. The Directorate-General maintains and updates a database of Ethiopians living abroad, persons of Ethiopian origin and friends of Ethiopia.
…serving as a Good Paradigm
Locals often observe – and emulate – the habits, customs and practices of “foreigners” – especially if these are seen as in some way socially superior and status enhancing. As such, inbound Health Tourism can act as an influencer, motivating locals towards paradigm shifts. People learn not by what they are told – but by what they see. In them seeing foreigners caring about their health – maintaining, restoring or enhancing it – not only through “treatment” (surgical procedures and medical therapies) – but also through lifestyle and practices (e.g., sport, correct diet, regular check-ups). Can a Health Tourism destination credibly promote itself as such – whilst being populated by unhealthy citizens – oblivious of healthy habits and lifestyle?
…brain drain in reverse - ‘brain regain’
Development of Medical Tourism motivates and incentivizes prominent and well trained health professionals to stay at home and those amongst the
Diaspora, to return. In the context of the Diaspora, there’s a new phenomenon of Healthcare Professionals (Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapists, and Allied Health Workers), originally from African countries, returning home to offer their expertise and services.
In many instances, these highly qualified professionals often return home from the “developed world” where their services are becoming less appreciated – and less well paid. Even if primarily attracted by the prospects of treating “well-heeled” International Patients (in the context of Medical Tourism) these professionals often end up also attending to the needs of the local population (whether it be in the private or public sector).
THE ROLE OF HEALTH TOURISM CONFERENCES
...acting as catalysts for Health Tourism Development while addressing ‘Brain Regain’ amongst other important issues
Staging of the Pan African Health Tourism Congress, the idea was for this event to serve as a motivator and catalyst:
For continent-wide Health Tourism Development
Assist in prompting African governments to improve the quality of services at public sector facilities
To help “incentivize” Health Sector Professionals of the African Diaspora to return “home” and capitalize on the opportunities opening up with the development of Health Tourism
The Pan African Health Tourism Congress is scheduled to take place from the 07th – 09th of June at the uMfolozi Hotel Casino Convention Resort, Empageni, KwaZulu Natal.