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Medical Tourism, a Global Trend That Already Moves Millions

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This tourist field stands for several billions of bucks, and that increases by 25% yearly. “Tourist” organizations provide vacationers packs, Liposuction, fertility therapies or hair transplantation.

More and more people are not hesitant to get on a plane to travel to another country to have surgery or to have medical exams, feeding medical tourism in uae. This year, for the first time, the International Tourism Bureau Berlin 2017, the largest tourism fair in Europe, dedicated part of its corridors to this emerging tourist sector, which already represents several billions of dollars, and which should increase 25% per year during the next decade, according to a recent study by Visa and Oxford Economics?

“The demand grows partly due to the aging of the population, but also by a growing middle class worldwide that is informed, through the internet, of the treatments that there are for them in other countries,” explains Julie Munro, president of the Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA), which establishes a classification of the ten best hospitals for travelers.

Health tourism is far from private land in some countries or limited to citizens of rich countries, reaching less expensive countries. United States, Turkey, Medical Tourism in Thailand, Singapore, but also Spain and Germany, are some of the countries where you arrive to escape the long waiting lists and access treatments not available in their countries or too much cost. Meanwhile, Portugal is preparing a modern park of private hospitals for tourists to avoid having to use public hospitals for tourism purposes.

“Health tourism grows every year because it provides many benefits in the field of personal and economic well-being,” said Joaquin Cunha, executive director of Health Cluster Portugal, a company that investigates new niche markets associated with the health, cited by the dpa agency.

“Health tourism is global. In Germany, many Germans go, for example, to Poland or Croatia for less expensive dental care, but there are also many Russians and inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula who come to Germany because there are quality hospitals and care they do not have in their countries”, details Thomas Bomkes, director of the marketing agency Diversity Tourism, partner of the ITB.

From “Lipos” To Capillary Transplant

The ITB counted this year with the presence of seven medical centers and an institute that submitted travel plans to Turkey, Dubai, Greece, Belarus or Poland for some type of treatment. Liposuction, fertility treatments or even a hair transplant are some of the options offered to travelers. For the most part, these institutions offer packs that include translation services in several languages, transportation to airports, hotel accommodations in destinations and medications.

For the World Tourism Organization (WTO), health tourism is a new trend that is not yet well defined, so it has not yet been counted how many millions of dollars are moving in the world for this item, as well as It has been established what kind of treatments are considered as health or medicinal tourism and if it includes thermal baths. However, UNWTO highlights Hungary, Lithuania, Malaysia, Spain and Mexico as the countries where this type of tourism has progressed.

The International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), which collaborates with the UNWTO in a study of this issue, also highlights Turkey as one of the countries where medical tourism has gained momentum. As it indicates, the majority of travelers with medical needs that receives Turkey come from Russia. Turkey is also a leader in the treatment of hair transplantation and 2015 100,000 tourists arrived in that country intending to get rid of baldness, according to the research journal.

“Our hospitals receive 40,000 patients annually from other countries, especially in Europe, for a wide range of treatments, from organ transplantation to dental treatments,” said Nadia Gullep, an international patient service specialist at the Turkish Acibadem Hospital Group in Istanbul.

Overdiagnosis

The network of ophthalmological clinics Worldeye, present in Turkey, but also in Germany and soon in Holland, says that it receives 50,000 foreign patients from 107 countries per year. “We work with agencies (travel) and offer complete packages” with transfer from the airport, says Jacco Vroegop, director of the Amsterdam and Frankfurt clinics. Dental treatments, aesthetic surgery, reproductive medicine, cancer or cardiac treatments, rehabilitation, and preventive examinations, the offer of health tourism is very varied.

However, although “the medical culture changes from one country to another,” Julie Munro warns of the danger of an “overdiagnosis” to fatten the bill. In addition to the first prerequisite of quality medical facilities and good infrastructure, the country’s security is also a criterion to attract health tourists.

Since 2012, the city of Dubai has been committed to medical tourism, concentrating on seven specialties for which the city has the necessary medical skills, without affecting access to care for the local population and selecting 42 centers that prioritize the reception of foreign patients. The Medical Tourism Council of Dubai reports that in 2015, 298,000 people traveled to Dubai to receive medical care, of which 30% came from Arab countries. The objective is to attract half a million “medical travelers” by 2020.

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