People, Travel

125 Hospitals Licensed for Health Tourism

125 Hospitals Licensed for Health Tourism125 Hospitals Licensed for Health Tourism

Of the 270 hospitals in Iran active in health tourism, 125 centers have so far taken license from the Health Ministry.

Speaking to Tasnim news agency, Mohammad Hussein Mirdehqan, director of the Treatment Supervision Office at the ministry, said, “Licensed hospitals will soon be able to use a special website to promote their services overseas in collaboration with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (the state-owned broadcaster).”

Licenses are issued by the Health Tourism Strategic Council, which comprises members of foreign and health ministries, ICHHTO and the Islamic Republic of Iran Medical Council. Formed in early 2015, the council sets rules and regulations for health tourism providers.

“The ministry aims to improve coordination among the relevant organizations and prevent middlemen from taking undue advantage from patients traveling to Iran seeking special medical care,” said Mirdehqan.

The official called on the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization to outline guidelines for firms, agencies and individuals in the sector, “otherwise profiteers will take over and hurt the economy”.

Mirdehqan said an English-language website is set to be launched in the near future which allows potential foreign patients to directly apply for medical tourism visas.

“The website will speed up the visa process and allows us to track the patients’ treatment”, he said, adding that foreign patients can also use the website to file complaints if any.

  Enhancing Status

The website will be translated into multiple languages and ambassadors will be able to use it with no trouble. “We will also try to enhance its ranking on Google search results.”

In 2004, roughly 12,000 people traveled to Iran for medical care, and the number reached 17,000 in 2005. However, the number of visitors in the following years is unknown due to lack of reliable data.

According to Masoud Soltanifar, the head of ICHHTO, Iran’s annual revenue from health tourism is between $400 million and $500 million, which is expected to reach $2.5 billion in the foreseeable future.

High cost of private treatment and low quality health systems in many countries in the region means there is a demand for medical services available in Iran. Those from Islamic countries are particularly attracted to Iran as they feel more safe and contented than in Arab or Asian countries offering similar services.

Geographical proximity, hot and cold mineral springs in various parts of the country as well as low-cost and high quality health services in the fields of fertility treatment, stem cell treatment, dialysis, heart surgery, cosmetic surgery and eye surgery are contributing to new opportunities to Iran’s health tourism — a growth industry in many countries.