Dr. Raimund Balmes Chairman German Committee for the Prevention of Blindness eV (DKVB) revealed to a local daily that several Kenyans and Zambians are seeking for eye check-ups in Tanzania.
The surprising fact surfaced in the wake of a shortage of doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) in the country.
The physician noted stated that the ratio of an ophthalmologist attending to the patients in a year is 1:1,500,000 million in a year, a fraction too high. A team of 28 doctors has camped at Dr. Atman Designated Hospital in Tanzania, having attended to 900 patients with 120 undergoing free eye surgery.
Dr. Evies Msigomba who accompanies the German team also mentioned the logistics which are a barrier to training an eye doctor. One needs $105,000 to undergo the three-year training which proves to be expensive. Acquiring the necessary tools for the study such as a microscope could cost up to $13,000.
There are eye hospitals in Kenya including eye laser services but raises a question of why one would travel to their neighboring country for such services.
There is a gap in the health sector in Tanzania, an industry that China has particularly invested. Chinese investments in Tanzania have strengthened the Tanzania – China bond improving their working relations and partnership in the trade as well. However, there remain investment opportunities for potential businesses.
According to an investigation carried out in 2016 in Tanzania, the report showed that visual impairment in Sub-Saharan Africa affects over 5 percent of the population. Weak health systems are unable to combat the health problem with inadequate technology and expertise in the sector. The report showed the government of Tanzania has not keenly addressed the issue that is paramount in rural areas.
With Zambians and Kenyans looking for health services beyond their boundaries, it exposes a gap in the respective economies that investors could step in. Few investors, however, have recorded interest in the health sector as they look to build their influence in industries and agriculture as well as technology.
Businesses have aligned themselves with the government plans on the prioritized sector which raises eyebrows on where the health sector is placed in the list of priorities.