South Africa is by far the leading medical tourism destination on the African continent. After the end of the Apartheid regime, South Africa has boomed as a tourist destination. Each year, more tourists are enticed to visit this diverse country for its breathtaking scenery, rich culture and remarkable history. With an increased tourismoc market, visitors are recognizing the possibility of combining vacation with healthcare or medical treatments at one of the excellent healthcare institutions that South Africa has to offer. It is estimated that over 400,000 medical tourists visited the country in 2008, a figure that is expected to grow during the coming years.
The South African government, together with the leading healthcare facilities and medical tourism facilitators, have realized the potential of the industry. This is for instance expressed in the two important congresses that were held in South Africa in 2009 and 2010 (South African Health Tourism Congress in 2009, and The World Health Tourism Congress in 2010), to support and further develop South Africa’s role as a leading medical and wellness travel destination.
South Africa offers in particular modern private clinics supplying the latest technology combined with highly experienced and trained staff. Surgeons are required to undertake an extensive 12-year training program before qualifying, and many doctors have also achieved their medical training overseas.
While having several national accreditation schemes, there is, as of today, no JCI accredited facilities in South Africa.
The most popular treatments for international patients coming to South Africa are various kinds of plastic surgery procedures. Liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tucks, nose reshaping and facelifts are some of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures performed on international patients. Other popular treatment areas are:
South Africa is certainly not the cheapest destination for medical or healthcare travel. But, depending on the treatment, medical tourists can expect to save as much as 40-60% on their treatment. However, due to its location, far away from both Europe and the US, the flight cost can be quite costly. Therefore, many patients make sure to stay longer in the country and enjoy both excursions before the procedure, and convalescence at a retreat afterwards.
South Africa is considered to have the best healthcare system south of the Sahara. Therefore, most international patients travel from other African countries, such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, to South Africa.