People, Travel

Snags in Medical Tourism

Snags in Medical TourismSnags in Medical Tourism

Lack of state-of-the-art equipment and investment in many hospitals is hampering growth in medical tourism, according to a medical professional.

“In Iran, many plans have been proposed and some are implemented to encourage and attract foreign patients, providing them with affordable, high quality care,” Tasnim News Agency quoted Mohammad Hassan Nasseh, a dermatologist at Helal Iran Pharmaceutical and Clinical Complex, as saying.

“However, outdated medical equipment and negligible financial support are two most crucial factors impeding development of the industry.”

Observers also point to lackluster marketing and promotion campaigns abroad as a major factor holding Iran’s nascent tourism industry back.

The potential of medical tourism in developing Iran’s travel industry has encouraged government bodies to work in harmony to ensure its calculated rise to regional, if not global, prominence.

In early 2015, a council was formed comprising representatives from the foreign and health ministries, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Medical Council.

The primary task of the council—called Health Tourism Strategic Council—is to review and approve regulations that directly affect hospitals and travel agencies catering to medical tourists in Iran.

Of the 270 hospitals in Iran active in medical tourism, 125 centers have so far acquired licenses from the council.

The high cost of private treatment and low quality health systems in regional countries means there is a demand for Iranian medical services. Those from Muslim countries are particularly attracted to Iran, as they feel safer and satisfied 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 giving rise to new opportunities in Iran’s medical tourism—a growth industry in many countries.

Iran’s annual revenue from medical tourism is said to be between $400 million and $500 million, which is expected to reach $2.5 billion in the foreseeable future.

According to a report last month by Big Market Research, the global medical tourism market is expected to reach $143 billion by 2022.

It was reported in May that the number of tourists traveling to Iran for advanced medical attention has grown by 40% in the past five years.