July 2017 BusinessDaily; Kenyans’ increasing obsession with beauty is fuelling a surge in cosmetic surgery procedures and Dubai surgeons have come scouting for more wealthy ‘patients’.
Dubai officials were in Nairobi last week marketing the country as not only a tourist destination, but a nip and tuck hub.
Over the years, more Kenyans who desire to enhance their beauty and lose weight have travelled to Dubai hospitals which have plastic surgeons who have operated on the who’s who of Beverly Hills.
Dr Layla Mohamed Al Marzouqi, the director of Medical Tourism Council in Dubai said Kenya makes it to the top five African countries with most health tourists to the city.
Last year alone, Dubai received 55,530 Kenyan medical tourists, according to data from its tourism department.
Of these medical tourists, most Kenyans went for cosmetic surgery, dental, bones and muscles, nerves, obesity, fertility and eye treatments, she said.
For wealthy Kenyans, they mostly travelled to Dubai for rhinoplasty (nose surgery), face lift and hair transplants—all cosmetic surgery procedures.
Kenyans are also going for bariatrics (weight loss treatments) which include gastric bypass and gastric band procedures.
“We are welcoming people who are healthy and coming for health enhancement, health checkup, anti-aging treatment, clinical spa, we are putting this into one basket and we are calling it health tourism in Dubai,” said Dr Marzouqi during the second edition of Dubai tourism stakeholders’ roadshow in Nairobi.
Medical tourism overseas is a growing trend especially for those who can afford. The rich travel for leisure and health activities such as fitness and wellness exercises.
“In Dubai your health experience could be a much needed vacation,’’ she said.
Nigeria accounts for the largest number of health tourists to Dubai from Africa, followed by Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Niger, according to the Dubai Tourism Department.
Those who go for dental procedures do teeth implants, root canals and fix the colour, position, shape, size and alignment of their teeth. Kenyans also go for hip and knee replacement, spinal, brain surgeries and to treat sports injuries.
For the shortest physiotherapy session in one of Dubai’s accredited hospitals, for instance, Kenyans are paying at least Sh140,000 (4,800 dirhams).
Of the 55,530 Kenyans who went to Dubai last year, two per cent sought pain relief services, three per cent fertility treatment ranging from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to intrauterine insemination (IUI), and 17 per cent dentistry.
One per cent went for wellness procedures.
“The largest percentage (39 per cent) came seeking treatment for bones and muscles, followed by 20 per cent and 18 per cent who came for skin and eye treatments respectively,” said Dr Al Marzouqi.
Others travelled for cancer and heart surgeries. Eye procedures included cataract surgery and laser eye surgery.
This does not mean that these treatments are not available locally but for sophistication and the love for fine services, most of the rich prefer spending more out of the country.
The shortage of plastic surgeons in Kenya and the love for privacy also forces the rich to travel abroad for cosmetic surgery and other treatments such as IVF.
To lure Africans, top hospitals in Dubai with facilities that are equivalent to five-star hotels include The American Hospital, Thumbay Hospital, Al Zahra Hospital and the Iranian Hospital.
The hospitals add fun to the medical trips with desert safaris, trips to Legoland, the Global Village, sky dive Dubai and many more.
“You would forget you came for treatment because you would be treated like a king or queen that you are,” said Dr Sameer Kumar, a manager at Thumbay Hospital.
Janet Malaba, a managing director at Travel Fix Tours and Travel that organises trips to Dubai said packages for medical tourists include three or four nights in a hotel providing bed and breakfast, airport transfer, desert safari with barbecue dinner, belly dancing show and dhow dinner cruise.
However, Daniel Yumbya, the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Board chief executive said patients who insist on going abroad need to be appropriately guided and given all the relevant medical information.