Choosing the right medical treatment abroad

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WHEN doctors tell you there are not able to fix your problem locally, your world is usually turned up-side-down. You start wondering whether this means the end of you or whether you can afford the cost associated with the medical treatment abroad.
You become aware of the many Zambians that have gone abroad and returned in caskets and you hope you will not be joining them.
You also learn of the Ministry of Health committee that has a long waiting list of desperate Zambians with complicated medical histories seeking help in accessing medical treatment abroad.
You also learn that this committee does not follow the recommendations of the doctors but instead use other considerations to choose who gets finally sent abroad. You also discover that since you have no political muscle and do not know anyone in this committee your chances of being sent abroad at government expense are as slim as catching dry fish in the Zambezi. You have to foot your own medical bill if you are to have a 50 chance of voting in 2016!
That was the case when my doctors informed me that I had 3 centimetre  hole in my heart that was causing one of the four chambers to operate at a below the average capacity, there by straining the other chambers of the heart and leading me closer to a heart attack. They called it an ASD (ostium secundum).
How many days did I have to live before the inevitable happened? They did not know but what they were sure of is that the damage caused by this hole on the heart was irreversible. I needed to have this fixed as soon as possible.
What options did I have to have my heart fixed? South Africa and India. I chose India because of their lower projected cost as compared to our southern neighbours who seem to have put profit ahead of saving lives! And how was I to know which hospital and doctors to approach in India, bearing in mind that there are a lot of unethical doctors and people who are cashing in on human spare parts and would not think twice about stealing my heart and other body parts to sell to their rich clients somewhere?
Who was I to trust to make cost saving but proper medical arrangements for me there and who was going to make my Visa arrangements?
In June this year I wrote to the Zambia embassy in New Delhi to advise me on the hospitals and doctors to approach. As I write this article, the Zambian embassy in New Delhi is still yet to reply to my email if ever they do reply or still yet to check their email boxes and respond to my emails.
Fortunately for me one of my doctors recommended an organisation called Med World India, whose specialty is arranging medical visits to India by foreigners outside India. Med World turned out to be run by a University of Zambia trained Indian young doctor called Surbhi Gupta Suden, the managing director.
This organisation arranged my Visa letters, collected quotations from three world class hospitals and doctors and advised me who of the three were better placed to provide the right services for me and at my budget. Dr. Surbhi and her team also arranges airport pick-up, accommodation in India near the hospital, hospital appointments and assigns their agent to ensure that the hospital attends to you as a matter of top priority to save on time, money and stress.
That’s what happened to me!
As I underwent open heart surgery at Medanta Medicity in Gurgaon in the morning of Tuesday August 13, 2013 under the hands of renowned surgeon Dr. Anil Bhan and his world class team, I knew I was in the right hands and I knew that if anything went wrong, my wife who had accompanied me would have Dr. Surbhi and her dedicated team of friends assist her with disposal or repatriation of my body.
I hope for other Zambians seeking medical attention abroad to make proper arrangements before embarking on their trip abroad and to choose a right team of people abroad to work with. Unfortunately our embassies do not seem to want to be involved in this as they do not respond to requests for information from long serving and over taxed taxpayers like me!
The Indian High Commission in Lusaka too despite being friends overcharges us on this medical tourist Visa and when you are given this Visa it is a one entry Visa – meaning it allows you to go to India once. How can a sick person who might need to revisit his doctors if things went wrong be given a one entry Visa?

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1 COMMENT

  1. This gave a good insight on how things are going in Lusaka. I am doing a research on the health care in Zambia. I would like to connect to the author so that I can get some insight on the same. If possible kindly write to me. Thanks a lot.

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