By Charles Mkula
Biakolo Essomba, a 44-year-old resident Cameroonian medical doctor recently underwent a successful liver transplant at Manipal Hospitals, Bangalore, India where he had been referred to after several failed treatments in his home country since he was diagnosed with viral hepatitis in 1997.
Liver viral hepatitis is an inflammation or the damage of the liver caused by an infection in the blood system or body fluids that may lead to complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
Essomba’s story is the same as those of many other patients across the world, who travel outside their countries in search of advanced and more affordable medical treatment at Manipal Hospitals, where reports indicate that the southern African nation of Malawi contributes approximately 1600 referrals a year.
According to Manipal Hospitals’ Lead Consultant – HPB and Liver Transplantation Surgeon, Dr. Rajiv Lochan, liver diseases that can lead to liver failure are a common problem all over the world.
Essomba’s story can never be complete without mentioning his sister, Biakolo Mengue Epouse Mende, 39, who volunteered to offer part of her healthy liver in order to give her brother a new lease of life.
Lochan notes: “The patient’s sister did an admirable job by stepping forward to save the life of her beloved brother and inspiring many to serve this noble cause”.
Various medical reports, show that the rate of organ donation is less than one donor per million people.
“Because organ donation saves not only the patients’ lives but also the lives of their families, this case serves as an inspiration and raises awareness about the importance of this noble cause,” the surgeon advises.
Lochan says that the successful surgery brought smiles of gratitude, hope, and readiness to experience a beautiful life ahead for the siblings.
“Dr. Baikolo is travelling back to Cameroon without any complications,” says the surgeon.
Speaking during a zoom press conference, Essomba expressed his gratitude to the health personnel at the hospital but also applauded the affordable rates and the cost of living in India saying it was very accommodative to visiting patients whose finances are much tied to health care.
Mr..Vikas Tayer, the hospitals’ Associate Vice President International Healthcare Services observes that India has become a valuable destination for health care service delivery for patients.
“Early this year, the Indian government unveiled the ‘Heal In India’ initiative”, which aims to standardise processes and treatment packages for foreign nationals,” says Taver who has worked at Manipals for the past six years of his 2.5 decades of health care experience.
The campaign is expected to raised $13 billion by the end of 2022. According to 2019-20 data, Manipal Hospitals receives around 55000 foreign patients every year.
Health reports indicate that many African countries do not only have severe shortage of health care professionals and equipment but are also inadequately funded and lack adequate health care coverage.
Tavis points out that while Manipal Hospitals offer a wide variety of treatments, specialised treatment include liver transplants, kidney transplants, heart transplants, and lung transplants, all of which are specialised treatments.
He says throughout his career he has noted that foreign patients seek medical attention outside their countries for various reasons including infrastructure, technology, expertise, clinical outcome and affordability.
“To meet these requirements, the healthcare system in India is increasingly focusing on patient empowerment and respectful treatment, as well as enhanced quality and accountability of the healthcare system,” he adds.
While the US, France, Thailand, Singapore, Turkey and South Africa are amongst the major countries and hospitals of the world that accommodate foreign patients, Tavis says clinical outcome, expertise, affordability and latest technology makes Manipal Hospitals more competitive than the rest.
“We provide comprehensive curative and preventive care for a multitude of patients from around the globe and we are currently on a drive to deliver qualitative clinical care.to underserved areas of the world.
A pioneer in healthcare, Manipal Hospitals is India’s second-largest multi-specialty healthcare provider treating over 4 million patients annually. With its recent acquisition of a 100% stake in Columbia Asia Hospitals in India, the integrated organization today has an enhanced pan-India footprint with 27 hospitals across 14 cities with 7,000+ beds with a talented pool of 4,000+ doctors and 10,000+ employees. Its focus is to develop an affordable, high-quality healthcare framework through its multispecialty and tertiary care delivery spectrum and further extend it to out-of-hospital care.