Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Holy Trinity Medical Center Dr. Felix Kwaku Anyah, has called for Ghana to promote health and medical tourism.
“It’s time to invest in promoting medical and health tourism,” Dr. Anyah stated after he was adjudged the ‘Most respected CEO’, Healthcare category at the Ghana Industry CEO Awards held on Friday, November 29, 2019, in Accra.
He also picked up the award for ‘Most respected CEO’, in the wellness category during the event heavily patronised by captains of industry, entrepreneurs and managers of some state institutions.
The award is in recognition of his role in providing health service innovation, strategic leadership, job creation and economic development in the country.
Receiving the plaques in recognition of his long service in the healthcare space, Dr Anyah noted, the increase in lifestyle diseases among young people birthed the idea to establish the Holy Trinity Spa and Health Farm, to offer individuals the opportunity to seek solutions.
One of the SPA and Health farm’s most celebrated clients on medical tourism to date is American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer – Stevie Wonder.
The singer’s visit as a medical tourist has boosted the facility’s image and elevated it to a status fit for medical and health tourism destination anywhere around the world.
But, Dr. Anyah says it is time for Ghana to make deliberate efforts to leverage the medical infrastructure in the country to its collective benefit.
The former CEO of the Korlebu Teaching Hospital said, “Ghana should be able to place health and medical tourism on the same level as cultural, historical tourism and other areas to boost the tourism offerings.”
According to him, several medical facilities in Ghana, including Korlebu could be sources of revenue for the tourism sector if properly harnessed and promoted.
Interacting with the media, Dr Anyah said, “People are not really worried these days about malaria, infections, and tuberculosis as much as lifestyle-related conditions like hypertension, diabetes, sleep disorders, neck and back pains. For this reason, people want to eat better, sleep better and better manage their stresses – that is an area we at Holy Trinity have been exploring for decades now.
“If we are able to fertilise this space as much as we do with other tourism forms, we would be one of the heavy boosters of our economy,” he said.
In 2017, the Economic Development in Africa Report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) revealed Kenya was one of Africa’s top beneficiaries of cross-border travel for medical purposes.
Its health and wellness facilities were wooing hundreds of visitors from neighbouring states and helping to boost the tourism industry.
The report titled Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth stated, “the medical tourism is marked by African nationals seeking high-end specialized medical services and primary health-care services, increasingly in other African countries.”
Apart from Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia was also cited as top destination for Europeans and Africans seeking medical services.
The Noble Laurette – United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals” SDG award winner, Dr. Anyah believes Ghana could be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Keya, Morocco and South Africa in this regard if the structures are properly streamlined.
He is, therefore, calling for a policy direction to drive this, in order to bridge what he describes as a gap in the chain.
“Ghana has human resources – surgeons and practitioners to make this work. All that is needed is accreditation by the international medical tourism agencies,” Dr. Anyah maintained.
He is of the strong conviction that when Ghana is accredited in terms of infrastructure and human resources, it would incentivise others to travel to Ghana for medical and health tourism.
In 2007, the Ministry of Health launched the regenerative health and nutrition programme to transform the health, lives and socioeconomic development of Ghanaians.
The main objective of the programme was to reduce the risk of occurrence of diseases and disorders for individuals, households, and communities so as to contribute to the development of a healthier and productive population that can create wealth for itself and the country.
But, not much has been achieved in this regard as Dr Anyah believes, the lack of clinical psychologists in the drive to attain behavioural change is to blame.
“For the past ten years, we have been telling people to change their lifestyles. We have been telling them to exercise, eat well, have enough rest and the like but the important thing which is how they can get these done, is lacking,” he noted.
He called on the Ministry of Health to ensure the inclusion of clinical psychologists in the roll-out of the regenerative health and nutrition programme, so they can actively lead the change effort.
The award-winning CEO said, “many people want to stop drinking alcohol, many people want to hit the gym, others want to improve their sleeping postures, for example, but how do they go about it? That is what the clinical psychologists would help carry through, he told journalists.
The former Chief Executive Officer of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Founder of the Holy Trinity Spa and Health Farm, Dr Anyah was in 2018 adjudged the Most Respected CEO – Health category at the Ghana Industry CEO Awards 2018.
He retained that category award at the 2019 edition where he picked up a second for the wellness category.
Dr Anyah and his Holy Trinity SPA and Health Farm at Sogakofe in the Volta Region have been the recipient of multiple local and international awards – including Pioneer in health tourism award, outstanding destination SPA, Nelson Mandela Gold Award for leadership and many others.