24.11.2017 Feature Article

Health Tourism And The Nation’s Health (1)

Health Tourism And The Nations Health 1
24.11.2017 LISTEN

“If you fail to have a peaceful rest, you will be forced to have a painful rest” –Anon

Health is wealth. Clean environment is a supreme condition for good health. Today, the United Nations, all responsible governments, anti-corruption and human rights CSOs have placed the environment and climate change the number one agenda. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its Constitution has established firmly certain Principles on Health as follows:

  • Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
  • The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
  • The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent on the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.
  • The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all.
  • Unequal development in different countries in the promotion of health and control of diseases, especially communicable disease, is a common danger.
  • Healthy development of the child is of basic importance; the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment is essential to such development.
  • The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.
  • Informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people.

There are many ways the Principles outlined by the WHO can be achieved. Governments have the prime responsibility for the health of their people which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social interventions funded by adequate state budget allocation. Governments must also provide the enabling environment for private businesses to thrive. These include the provision of efficient and effective infrastructural systems like good road, rail, air and water transportation systems, constant supply of electricity and safe pipe borne water. In addition there should be a friendly microeconomic and macroeconomic environment driven by fair and equitable tax regime and equal attention paid to local investors just as is paid to foreign investors. Additionally, there should be efficient and corruption-free civil and public service, a just and independent judicial system, an accountable and transparent governance system with integrity driven by a political system devoid of corruption and bureaucratic rigmarole, and respect for human rights.

In this light, it is important to understand and appreciate the first Principle enunciated by WHO which stately quite clearly and unequivocally that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Unfortunately, many people including even the educated do not understand the nature of health. This is very crucial to the understanding of health therapy and the essence of health tourism, sports tourism and adventure tourism. These are what we may call preventive medicine as distinct from curative medicine. All things being equal, preventive medicine should be cheaper than curative medicine, After all, the adage says: “prevention is better than cure”

Again, it should be noted that the fact that you have gone through a regime of medical examination and has been given a clean bill of health does not necessary mean that you possess a continuous state of good health or you are in actual fact healthy. In the first place a medical certificate is like a statement of financial position signed by the accountant. A statement of financial position provides a still picture of your state of financial health at a particular point in time. In the same way, a medical certificate is valid only at a point in time (i.e. the time when the medical examination was undertaken) and not necessary a guarantor of a continuous state of good health ad infinitum. Again a medical certificate may not necessarily show signs of stress, lack of social and mental well-being even though all the indicators from the examination will show that your body is within all the attributable acceptable indicators.

There are many instances where an obviously sick person has undergone all sorts of medical tests which have failed to reveal the nature of the disease afflicting the obviously sick person. It is for all these reasons why persons who apparently appear healthy die suddenly. That is why it is always necessary to carry out periodic medical examinations on a regular basis and most importantly indulge yourself in one form of health therapy, especially either health tourism, sports tourism or adventure tourism. That is why it is important that governments must create the enabling environment and make provision of infrastructures for tourist sites and encouragement to the hospitality and tourist industry to enable the citizens take holidays at affordable cost. Above all, the mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing as well as the economic and political wellbeing, security and personal freedom must be guaranteed by the state.

Unfortunately, when it comes to health therapy there appears to be a callous attempt to deprive the citizens of healthy lifestyle. Today, virtually all our tourist sites have been degraded and wantonly touched to the point of destruction. The historical castles on our coastline, Kakum National Park, Mole National Park, Mount Afajato, Paga Crocodile Pond, Wli Waterfalls, Nzulezu Village and Kwame Nkrumah's birthplace at Nkroful all in the Nzema area, name but a few, are all neglected sites and constitute an apology of tourism destinations.. Most of the road networks to these places are not tourism friendly. Most of the destinations mentioned above lack affordable budget hotels and restaurants and well-stocked craft shops displaying local handiworks. There are hardly any professional tourism guides in place to conduct tourists around and educate them about the culture and traditions of the people and places.

The reason for this sad state of affairs is obvious: managerial incompetence and behavioural corruption. Persons appointed into positions of trust and high offices as Ministers of State, District Chief Executives and Metropolitan Chief Executives, District Chief Executives and board members and Chief Executives of state institutions do not have any vision, strategic plan and business acumen to harness the rich resources in tourism which could bring down considerably the poverty level of their people. They are only interested in awarding over-inflated contracts to their cronies and political affiliates so that they can get their share of the booty, a simple phenomenon of create, loot and share syndrome

Ironically, thank God, as a result of a tragic accident, the government woke up to its responsibility to rehabilitate the Kintampo Waterfalls. Today as a result of the pioneering effort of Holy Trinity SPA at Sogakope established by Dr. Felix Anyah, some other entrepreneurs are waking up to the call for the establishment of such important health tourism sites. At Sogakope right on the banks of the Volta River, Dr. Felix Anyah, an accomplished medical practitioner, has started a revolution in the health tourism industry by establishing the Holy Trinity SPA and Health Farm to promote health tourism. At reasonable prices, couples can avail themselves of gift vouchers to stay a weekend or newly married couples can spend their honeymoons in serene peaceful atmosphere at the Coconut Grove Beach Hotel at Elmina, a resort among the business empire of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom family. These are all worthy private initiatives to promote health tourism in the country.

E-mail: [email protected]

By Kwame Gyasi

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