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Seychelles health care grows as private health providers join in race to offer more choices to the islanders

Victoria, Seychelles | July 30, 2014, Wednesday @ 09:06 in National » HEALTH | By: John Lablache, Sharon Uranie and Wanjohi Kabukuru | Views: 7318
Seychelles health care grows as private health providers join in race to offer more choices to the islanders

The Stethoscope, taken on March 25, 2012.  (Alex Proimos/Flickr) The proliferation of private medical facilities in Seychelles over the past five years has meant a wider array of choices, there are presently 14 private medical practices, seven private dentists and seven privately owned pharmacies in the country. Photo License: (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

(Seychelles News Agency) - In the recent past the Seychelles’ private health sector has recorded an unprecedented growth. New health cottages are springing up and offering much more diversified services which were previously unavailable at private health care facilities.

While free health care is provided for in this Indian Ocean island nation comprising of 115 islands, with a population of around 90, 000, there also exists several private health care facilities. There have been private health centres for quite some time now offering general consultation and referring patients to the Seychelles Hospital in Mont Fleuri for specialized care.

The Commonwealth Health Online which profiles the 53 member states of the Commonwealth has categorized Seychelles as having a health system that borrows heavily from the United Kingdom model. Seychelles has a three-tier system comprising of a central referral hospital which resonates from the main Seychelles Hospital, followed by cottage, rehabilitative, mental and youth hospitals in the second tier and district health centres across the archipelago.

The Euromedical Family Clinic is one such facility. It opened its doors to the public three years ago. This private health care provider operates two clinics at Providence and Eden Plaza a couple of kilometres from the Seychelles capital of Victoria and has an orthopaedic surgeon, gynaecologist, general physician and anaesthetist.

Euromedical family clinic Providence (Euromedical/Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY

This clinic is equipped with high-end electro cardiograms (ECG) equipment as well as ultra-sound for diagnosing various ailments. There is also an ante-natal clinic which was previously a preserve of government hospitals and dispensaries. The clinic boasts of a modern laboratory capable of handling over 100 tests. The Euromedical clinic is also planning to introduce specialist treatment for spinal injuries.

In the northern part of the main island of Mahé, at Anse Etoile, 4 kilometres from the capital of Victoria is the Eureka Medical Specialist Clinic. Opened in May last year, the clinic has five full time practitioners comprising of a general surgeon, orthopaedic, physician, cardiologist and pain management specialist. Eureka Clinic is a fully equipped health facility capable of handling both minor and complex health complications.

According to the Eureka’s chairman, Chrystold Chetty, the clinic intends to increase its specialist services by recruiting a paediatrician, ophthalmologist and an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

“The shareholders are considering plans for further investment into more equipment which will provide the clinic with more self-sufficiency and sustainability.” Chetty said this during the clinic’s first anniversary celebrations. “In the longer term the company may consider building a 20 rooms’ hospital in order to provide more comprehensive service to patients.” 

View of the waiting area at Eureka Clinic at Anse Etoile (Eureka/Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY

These two clinics are testimony of Seychelles changed health care topography. There are presently 14 private medical practices, seven private dentists and seven privately owned pharmacies in the country.

The proliferation of private medical facilities over the past five years has meant a wider array of choice for doctors and clinics for patients.

More private practice in the making

With already 14 private medical practices, a 15th clinic has announced its intention of starting to offer its services in Seychelles in the near future.

Sri Lankan medical services provider Nawaloka Hospitals International well known worldwide for trail-blazing the global medical tourism ideal is soon to opens its doors in Seychelles. The hospital is expected to start offering health care services to the Seychellois public once regulatory approvals are granted by the various statutory bodies including the Public Health Authority.

Nawaloka Hospital which President Rajapaksa innaugurated during his working visit to the archipelago last month is primed to be a fully-fledged health facility once it opens to the public. It will work in close collaboration with the main node back in Sri Lanka to offer continuity of care for patients.

Speaking to SNA, Dr Sanjeeva Ranbadu, Head of Nawaloka Hospitals International, said Nawaloka’s is to going to offer telemedicine facilities so that the consultation and reporting of investigations can be done here in real time and eliminate the costly travel expenses abroad for whole process. “The second stage we are hoping to introduce digital x-ray, DXA scanning and CT scanning and third stage if everything goes well and if we see there is a potential we will go for a mini hospital with all the facilities.” Ranbadu says.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa officially inaugurated the Nawaloka Medical Centre in Seychelles while on working visit in Seychelles last month. Nawaloka will become operational only when regulatory approval is given by the various statutory bodies including the Public Health Authority. Photo License: CC-BY

According to Sanbadu, Nawaloka is also going to introduce cosmetic surgeries which will be a first in Seychelles.

“Cosmetic surgery ranges of minor procedures like mole removal or removal of skin marks to major surgeries like tummy tuck, face lifts to reshaping of your nose, the spectrum is wide we will not have the facilities at our clinic for major cosmetic surgeries but we will screen them or they can be consulted through the telemedicine and we can offer the services to have it done in Sri Lanka,” said Ranbadu.

Currently many Seychellois travel to other countries such as Singapore, Mauritius, Reunion, India and the UAE to receive medical treatment when the services are not on offer in Mahé.

The Seychelles health ministry currently refers most of its patients to MIOT International in Chennai, India. Recently the Ministry told SNA that an average of 132 to 185 cases are referred MIOT annually.  

Public Health authority ensures compliance of the private facilities

While the Seychelles government is encouraging investment in the private health sector, it strongly stresses that this must be done according to the countries regulatory framework. Seychelles Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon told SNA that “the Public Health Authority has to ensure that the public gets service which is genuine and of good quality."

He said that as the health sector expands, the authority is there to regulate, monitor and control services they offer.

According to Gedeon the procedures for the setting up of private clinics include, providing business proposals to the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB), identification of locations and submitting floor plans to the Seychelles Planning Authority.  The planning application is assessed by the ministries responsible for health, environment, the fire and rescue services and other related agencies, who may suggest modifications, before approval.

Practicing staff must be approved and registered

Gedeon also says that Seychelles has several bodies which are responsible for registering different categories of health professionals. According to Gedeon all doctors practicing in Seychelles must be approved by and registered with the Medical and Dental Council, similarly all nurses are assessed by the Nurses and Mid-wives Association.

Doctors practicing in Seychelles must be approved by and registered with the Medical and Dental Council, so does the nurses, physiotherapists and other specialists. Photo License: CC-BY

There is also a Health Professional Council, for physiotherapists and other specialists.

"The aim is to regulate and monitor the public and private health sector while protecting the public’s interests." Dr Gedeon says adding that there have been a few instances in the past where foreign doctors have tried to practice in Seychelles using documents which were not genuine.

"At the end of the day, it boils down to fair competition and general well-being for all." 

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Tags: private health care, health, Dr Jude Gedeon, Public Health Authority

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