Health Tourism is Debated

Health Tourism  is Debated Health Tourism  is Debated

Health tourism refers to the travel of people outside their original country of residence with the purpose of maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing or obtaining medical treatment. The trips usually last for more than twenty four hours but less than year.

Health tourism consists of three main subsectors: wellness tourism, curative tourism, and medical tourism. Treatments may vary in kind, some travel to relax in spas and benefit from other such natural remedies, whereas others might travel to undergo operations in major medical facilities, and to recover in a more ideal environment.

Compared to more common forms of tourism, health tourism increases revenue three times as more. This injects billions into the revenue stream, Iran’s share of which is next to nothing.


In March 2014, the strategic council of health tourism was inaugurated in Iran. Involved were four main organizations: the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Doctor Mohammad Panahi was designated as the head of the council, as reported by CHN.

Policymaking, planning, and supervising of activities in the field of health tourism were meant to be distributed among the involved parties and an executive guideline was to be laid out.


Although six months have now passed since the council first commenced, several fundamental issues are still matters of dispute. Most importantly, each organization wishes to act as the supreme administrator and a consensus has not yet been reached.

In a recent meeting at the committee of tourism of the chamber of commerce, industries, mines, and agriculture, some of the issues regarding health tourism in Iran were addressed. Present were chairman of the committee Mohammad Kaveh, vice chancellor of planning and monitoring of the medical council Mohammad Jahangiri, secretary general of Eco Chamber Mohammad Reza Karbasi, and a number of other officials, Donya-e Eqtesad reported.


Kaveh stated that in order for matters to be sorted out, it is important for tariffs in the area of health tourism to be imposed. An ideal health tourism destination for travelers from Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Africa, Iran could be a competent player in the field.

Jahangiri expressed concerns that “the relatively new strategic council of health tourism has by far taken no serious action.” He stated that the infrastructures of health tourism belong to and most of the investment has been done by the medical council. It is therefore “only logical for the medical council to also conduct management.”

 Public Versus Private

Mohammad Reza Karbasi, blamed the problems in the area of health tourism on the fact that an overarching accountable body still does not exist. Five years back when the idea of health tourism was first conceived, none of the organizations showed much interest. After the private sector invested and the importance of health tourism became clear, the government now wants to take over and push the chamber aside. Undeniably, issues regarding visas and flights are and will continue to remain under the control of the government, imposing international standards and medical tariffs however, need to be carried out by other relevant organizations.

It seems that in the current situation where disputes remain high on the issue of administration, imposing tariffs is of secondary importance. On the other hand, the imposing of tariffs is a matter which rationally calls for the presence of other beneficiaries such as hotels and the guild of tour guides. Tourism incorporates several different organizations and calls for a multifaceted approach.