Playground for the rich

MOZAMBIQUE, once a socialist country with a centralised economy, is now a playground for the bourgeois.

Since the signing of a peace agreement in 1992, the country that was a home to South African struggle heroes during apartheid has made significant progress in recovering from its war-torn past. Roads have been resurfaced, running water and electricity have been restored and a lot of development is taking place.

Today Maputo, which is famous for its broad, leafy avenues, exotic game reserves and delicious prawns, is one of the most beautiful cities in Africa.

The city is relaxed and friendly, with many pavement cafés on the streets.

The country was recently portrayed as an exemplar of World Bank policies: A socialist-turned-capitalist government, outfitted with structural adjustment programmes and put on the path to development.

One example of this is the new African Medical Investment facility, a 30-bed private hospital, trauma centre and well woman clinic in Maputo, the first of its kind in the country.

Mozambique only had three main central hospitals in each region, Beira for the Central region, Nampula for the Northern region and Maputo for the Southern region, which is also the final referral hospital for the whole country.

Many people from Mozambique travel to Nelspruit for their medical needs, which has put a lot of strain on South Africa's public health system.

The opening of this facility meets the soaring demand for dedicated private medical services and opens up room for medical holidays, a growing trend where tourists take advantage of well-trained doctors, beautiful African beaches, fishing, diving, snorkeling, sunset cruises and an exchange rate that favours those with rands, dollars and pounds.

It aims to attract Westerners to the concept of quality surgical treatment for a fraction of the cost they would pay in their own countries.

The hospital also offers specialist cosmetic surgery, recuperation and rejuvenation holiday packages, using South Africa's leading cosmetic surgeons.

After treatment patients take a relaxing recovery vacation in Maputo.