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Beefing Up Health Tourism
Travel

Beefing Up Health Tourism

Health tourism is a growing industry, so it comes as no surprise many developing countries with top-notch medical care are vying for health tourists.
In line with Iran’s tourism goals, the health ministry has rolled up its sleeves and issued directives aimed at turning Iran into a health tourism hotspot.
Speaking to Fars News Agency, Mohammad Haji Aghajani, a deputy at the health ministry, outlined the ministry’s plans to attract tourists and provide quality medical care. “We started a number of projects last year, and they are expected to be completed by the end of the year.”

  Tourist Database
According to Aghajani, establishing a database of incoming health tourists is an important first step. Elaborating on the matter, he said, “Hospitals will be required to register patients who have entered Iran for the sole purpose of receiving medical treatment.”
The system will provide authorities with detailed information about the type of treatment each person receives, among a host of other useful data, which allows officials to devise effective plans to upgrade facilities and equipment.”The lack of such a system has held us back for too long,” he asserted.

  Funding
Another measure is to identify the strengths of hospitals in different specialties.
“Ranking hospitals based on the quality of services offered in different specialties makes it easier for tourists to find hospitals offering top-quality care suited to their medical need,” Aghajani said.
Last year, hospitals were given six months to meet a set of standards issued by the health ministry, in order to meet the requirements of quality healthcare facilities. “We will assess their progress this year, and hospitals which have met the standards will be funded to further enhance their services.”
Hospitals will be funded based on their specialties. For example, if a hospital’s cardiovascular surgery department is the only department that meets the standards, the funding will be allocated to the enhancement of services in that department only.

  Health Tourism Providers
Founding travel agencies and tour operators dedicated to health tourism is another measure the ministry feels strongly about.
In early 2015, a working group comprising representatives of the ministry of foreign affairs, the health ministry, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Medical Council, and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) convened and approved regulations for the establishment of health tourism providers, Aghajani said.
“Responsible organizations have made it their mission to make Iran a health tourism hub in the region.”
In 2004, roughly 12,000 people traveled to Iran to receive 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 the director of ICHHTO Masoud Soltanifar, 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.

 

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