45 More Hospitals Admit Overseas Patients

Over 400 hospitals have expressed readiness to admit foreign tourists seeking advanced medical care.Over 400 hospitals have expressed readiness to admit foreign tourists seeking advanced medical care.

The Health Ministry’s Health Tourism Council has authorized 45 more hospitals in the country to admit international patients in one or more wards, taking the number of accredited hospitals for foreigners to 170.

“From among the 400 hospitals active in the field of health tourism that expressed readiness to admit foreign tourists seeking advanced medical treatment, 170 were granted IPD (International Patients Department) permits,” said deputy health minister Mohsen Asadi-Lari.

He was addressing a conference on ‘Visions and Plans for the Health Ministry’s International Sector’ on Saturday in Tehran, IRNA reported.

The Health Tourism Council was formed in early 2015 comprising representatives from foreign and health ministries, Iran Cultural Heritage Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Medical Council.

The council’s primary task is to review and approve regulations that directly affect hospitals catering to foreign tourists and travel agencies that bring health tourists to Iran.

It is also the authority to issue the IPD certificate, which is expected to help prevent the operation of middlemen in this sector by formally organizing the services and enhancing supervision. The hospitals are required to register patients who have entered Iran for receiving medical treatment in the Health Ministry’s database.

“Most of the health tourists are from neighboring countries such as Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, and Oman, with Iraq taking the lead,” Asadi-Lari added.

Also, ICHHTO has issued licenses for 27 tour companies (out of 188 applicants) to operate in the sector as part of plans to develop health tourism. The schemes are aimed at eliminating the increasing number of greedy middlemen who exploit the lack of efficient management in the key sector and for few dollars more create a negative image for Iran.

Pointing to a number of shortcomings in the sector, the health official cited lack of regulations and fixed tariffs as some of the main challenges.

Additionally, 106 pharmaceutical companies are now accredited to export medication.

“Health tourism is not limited to medicine and treatment, but extends to include educational packages, exchange of science and knowhow, and pharmaceutical products,” Asadi-Lari said.

Affordable medical healthcare is a major advantage for Iran. Hospitals which have applied for a permit will be reviewed in the upcoming months.

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

According to ICHHTO, Iran’s annual revenue from health tourism is between $400 million and $500 million, while the target is to reach $2.5 billion in the foreseeable future. According to a report earlier by Big Market Research, the global medical tourism market is estimated to reach $143 billion by 2022.

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