Category Archives: Africa

‘Turkishmaninacanstan’ Strikes Back

Readers of this blog know that from time to time, I have had to criticize those in the workers’ comp industry for their short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness, excessive American Exceptionalism, “Know-nothingism”,  xenophobia and subtle racism.

But when a well-respected online journal re-posts an article by the chief anti-medical travel opponent in the workers’ comp world, it is high time that the medical travel industry speak up and defend itself.

As a tireless advocate for medical travel in workers’ comp, I am leading the charge that you, my friends around the world must do for yourselves.

You will notice the title of this post. This is what the individual in question calls those countries that provide medical travel services. Also, please note that by using this canard as my title, I am in no way insulting Turkey, or any other nation that markets their medical care to the world.

There is fair criticism of Turkey and many other countries in the medical travel industry, but those criticisms are meant to improve the services and to correct the mistakes of the past, and not to pass judgement on them.

But when someone uses a term such as ‘Turkishmaninacanstan’, it conjures up the worse images of third world poverty and backwardness in all aspects of life of the nations so broadly brushed with that epithet.

The individual who coined that despicable name is a self-styled, right-wing American conservative who lives on the gulf coast of the state of Florida, a region where many individuals like him retire to after their careers have declined to play golf.

While this individual may not be one of those just yet, the fact that he dismisses new ideas, that he insults the millions of men and women around the world who are trying to offer real low cost medical care at equal or better quality, that he insults the very nations who could use those resources they are spending to bring medical travelers to their countries as a way to improve their balance of trade and economic power in the global economy, when they could be used to raise the living standards of their poorest citizens, is something that can no longer go unanswered.

So, I ask all of you, doctors, nurses, travel agents, medical tourism promoters and facilitators who are legitimately trying to provide better medical care at lower cost to all of the world’s citizens, to speak up and tell this individual and those like him, that your countries are not ‘Turkishmaninacanstans’, and that you are developing world-class medical facilities that outshine those in his own country, and mine.

Basically, he is calling you con artists and frauds, and that is something that only you can stop.

 

 

 

 

OSHA To Weigh In On Interim Guidelines for Zika this Spring

Continuing the discussion from my previous posts on the Zika virus, “Will Zika Impact Medical Travel to Latin America?” and “Insurers’ Have Zika on Radar“, Gloria Gonzalez, of Business Insurance.com, has written today that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is aiming to publish interim guidelines on protecting workers from occupation exposure to the virus this spring.

OSHA is the US government’s health and safety watchdog responsible for overseeing workplace accidents and safety.

As I mentioned previously in “Insurers’ Have Zika on Radar”, US insurance companies are monitoring the virus and are educating their members, but have not determined what it will cost the payer community.

OSHA’s involvement signals that the Zika virus is not only a concern in general health care, but for workers’ compensation as well.

In a report this evening on CBS News, there was no evidence that mosquitoes in the US are carrying the virus, but health officials expect that in the Southern US, there will be a spreading of the virus to the domestic mosquito population.

So like the CDC, OSHA is taking the spread of the virus seriously. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health, was reported in Gonzalez’ article as saying the following at a meeting of the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health today in Washington:

Coming soon to a federal office near you is the Zika virus, and we’re quite concerned about it.”

Mr. Michaels also added that “there’s growing concern across the federal government. We’ve heard from a bunch of agencies about the Zika virus. We’re developing interim guidelines for protecting workers for you all to see, both for your workers who go overseas [workers’ comp and medical travel is a stupid and ridiculous idea, and a non-starter, eh, Mr. Wilson?] , but also we’re seeing the first cases in the United States, and we have to be prepared for that as well.”

Mr. Michaels also said that agency officials are reviewing a preliminary draft and soliciting feedback from other federal agencies, but that they hope to publish the guidance this spring.

He mentioned that similar guidance was published last year in response to the Ebola outbreak, with requirements and recommendations for protecting workers whose work activities are conducted in environments known or reasonably suspected to be contaminated with the virus.

In an alert published by Ben Huggett of the law firm, Littler, Mendelson P.C., back in late January, under the OSHA Act, employees may refuse to work only where there is an objectively “reasonable belief that there is imminent death or serious injury”.

An employee refusing to work without an objective belief may result in disciplinary action, but Huggett advised employers to take extreme care to avoid such adverse actions due to a refusal to work caused by concerns about Zika.

What does this mean for workers’comp?

It represents another exposure for loss should a worker contract he virus and pass it on to a pregnant woman, who then delivers a microcephaly baby. Or, the infected individual could pass it on to a sexual partner, or to a mosquito, if they are bitten, further spreading the disease.

But it also give us an opportunity to explore the feasibility of implementing medical travel into workers’ comp, because most assuredly, they would most likely be treated where they were infected, and not back in the US. Having a worker treated in a local hospital, say in Brazil, that also caters to medical travel, would prove that medical care in Latin America is not dangerous or primitive.

Such views of the world of medicine outside our shores are no longer valid, and given the ability of diseases to spread rapidly around the world, such views are outdated, no longer apply in a globalized world. It is essential that governments at all levels, and the business community as well, remove all barriers and obstacles to providing the best medical care available, no matter where that happens to be.

To do otherwise is foolish.

 

How Medical Tourism Hospitals are Developed

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Today’s second post is courtesy of Maria Todd, CEO of Mercury Healthcare International.

While her article is about hospital development in Africa, specifically the work she is doing in Nigeria, it is instructive on how hospital development in other regions of the world are laying the groundwork for the expansion of medical tourism.

In the article, she explains why Africa is targeted for financing and why now, how to size the facility and the market, what is different about hospital development and inpatient utlization in Africa, where the money comes from, the investment risk and capital funding in Africa, and some of the pitfalls that can happen when a company like hers is called in to help develop a hospital, and there is not much cash to be had, or as she puts it:

Apples and little green monkeys fall from trees – not cash

Being an expert in medical tourism and healthcare, Maria has made a name for herself, which is why she takes on such a daunting challenge as hospital development in Africa. Perhaps one day, Africa will be known as a shining example of medical tourism, and she and her company will have made it possible.