Medical Tourism News, Trends and Updates in Covid Crisis

Global medical tourism seems to be on the recovery path after dealing with severe blows of Covid-19.  Mass cancellations hit hospitals and the hospitality industry catering to foreign patients. The recovery though slow is promising.  Some light is visible at the end of the tunnel. Countries that managed to flatten the Covid curve are slowly opening borders for foreign medical travelers.

Post global economic crisis, employment in tourism and hospitality was the highest about 35% while other sectors grew by 11%. Tourism has been the major employment provider for the vulnerable sections namely the youth and women. Despite the scary number of millions of job losses in this sector, it has the ability to bounce back faster than others. Amid this situation, it is more important for stakeholders to follow the principles of UNTWO Global Code of ethics for tourism.

The UNTWO has released a call for action to mitigate this devastating impact on socio-economic sector and accelerate the growth by taking effective steps in crisis management and mitigating the impact, providing stimulus to speed up the recovery and proactive planning for the future.

Here we bring you some significant industry updates highlighting the possible future medical tourism trends and hidden opportunities.

07/07/20

More than 1700 medical tourists to arrive in Thailand from 1st July amid strict Covid protocols

woman undergoing covid test

1700 plus medical travelers from 17 countries to arrive in Thailand from 1st July amid strict quarantine rules to prevent the infection spread. The first batch of patients registered for medical tourism are from Myanmar (478), Laos (477), Vietnam (39), China (65), the UAE (223), Oman (187), Kuwait (137), Qatar (95) and Saudi Arabia (14).

Thailand’s medical and wellness tourism program has created for two types of quarantine depending on the treatments. Those coming for short duration treatments requiring less than 14-day stay can go for hospital quarantine. For longer procedures like fertility treatment, medical travelers can opt for Alternative Hospital quarantine. In any case, the 14-day quarantine is a must. As much as 62 private hospitals have been listed as quarantine centers for medical tourists. Medical tourists will have to take 3 covid tests: the first one before departing to Thailand, the second on arrival to Thailand and the third before departure from Thailand. Medical tourists traveling by air only would be allowed entry to Thailand. All of them should carry COE (Certificate of Entry) from the Thai embassy.

06/07/20

Turkish Healthcare Travel Council (THTC) mourns the passing of Khalida Sadykova, industry leaders join to offer condolences

Khalida Sadykova, the Kazakhstan Director of THTC

Sad news for the global health tourism. Khalida Sadykova, the Kazakhstan Director of THTC passed away battling a deadly disease. A true professional reflecting optimism in tough times and a great person, she helped many patients battling serious diseases. Unfortunately, she lost the toughest battle. Condolences poured in from leading members of the GHTC (Global Health and Tourism Council) and THTC as all woke up to disbelief that she is no more.  Her contribution to medical tourism and the heart-winning smile will remain etched in everybody’s mind. RIP Khalida. You will be missed. Our prayers with the bereaved family members.

Iran to promote traditional medicine and lifestyle

memorandum of understanding

An MoU signed among five executive bodies namely, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology, the Ministry of Cultural Tourism and Handicrafts, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is of immense significance that the country is looking forward to uphold its traditional medicine to boost health tourism in Iran, reports Tehran Times.

The MoU aims establishment of more health centers for traditional medicine and enhanced cooperative programs to promote healthy lifestyle based on traditional medicine and health tourism.  Currently, 56 clinics of traditional medicine are in full operation. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, medicinal plant export has fetched $450 million in 2019. Global herbal market is valued approximately $72 billion that can reach $7 trillion by 2050. Iran sees a great opportunity ahead to increase its market share. 

WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) gives “Safe Travels” stamp to Jordan. 20 Hospitals readies for medical tourism

salamtak website

Image Source :salamtak.gov.jo

The Kingdom’s successful measures in containing Covid-19 paid off as it received the “Safe Travels” stamp from WTTC, a valued recognition for travel amid the global pandemic menace reports salaamgateway. Jordan’s immediate response to impose a nationwide lockdown of all sites of tourism attraction in the first phase was a crucial step. This was followed by adaptation and gradual opening of tourism finally allowing a recovery period through domestic tourism.

Tourism Minister Majd Shweikeh is highly optimistic about tourism revival in the country focusing on medical tourism. To support that, the government website salamtak.gov.jo is launched to help foreign patients in all aspects of medical tourism. The website contains all information of hospitals, prices and transport.  Needless to state, that Jordan has always maintained patient-centric approach in medical treatments and services. Two companions will be allowed with each patient who should carry a certificate indicating they are free from covid infections. So far, 20 hospitals have voiced their readiness to accept medical travelers with strict adherence to set safety protocols..

02/07/20

King aims to promote Jordan as the medical tourism destination, capitalizes its success in handling Covid-19

His Majesty King Abdullah

Image Source : kingabdullah.jo

His Majesty King Abdullah emphasized the need of promoting Jordan as the medical tourism destination that handled Covid-19 crisis much better. The message stands clear. Jordan can be one of the safest medical tourism destinations where medical tourists can avail any treatment with the least fear of infection. He gave importance to the active cooperation of all stakeholders to facilitate the arrival of medical travelers amid strict safety protocols while offering the highest standard of treatment facilities. This is to ensure the stability of the pandemic in this country.

Dr. Fawzi Hammouri, the chairman of PHA voiced a similar opinion of the opportunity that Jordan has through its great pandemic management strategies. This would be encouraging enough for foreign patients to visit Jordan. To facilitate the process, the PHA has launched a website tying up 14 hospitals for prospective medical tourists. The website also offers E-Visa and booking services and a hotline for further assistance.

30/06/20

Thailand eyes overseas Thais for its medical tourism goals

telemedicine consultation

Thailand is opening up to selective international travelers for medical tourism. In view of this, the country to become a global medical and wellness tourism hub by 2024 targets 1 million Thais overseas along with other international travelers, as mentioned by TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand).

With the growing awareness of health and awareness owing to the pandemic, the demand for preventative and regenerative medicine has shot up.  Thailand aims to leverage its great reputation in medical treatments and wellness services by targeting the ‘sons of the soil’ i.e. the Thais residing abroad who might find accessing critical medical services in the home country easier and affordable than in the residing countries. Thailand aims to provide seamless telemedicine consultation soon for the Thais abroad.

Another strategy is to rope up hotels in Thailand as stakeholders that would provide wellness treatments and services in coordination with hospitals. Thailand also plans to launch B2B online platforms that would help in extending the reach of medical and wellness operators in Thailand through the facilitators and providers overseas.

25/06/20

Thailand to receive 50,000 foreigners next week, plans to launch project for medical and wellness tourists

woman receiving medical certificate

Thailand readies to receive 50,000 foreigners next week of which 30,000 are likely to travel for medical and wellness tourism. The rest will include skilled workers, expats, businessmen, investors and those having residences in this country.

The special project named the Medical and Wellness Resort of the World will welcome international visitors under the Travel Bubble campaign set up with China, Japan and South Korea. The project will initiate from the top beach resorts of Krabi, Phuket and Huan Hin already having great medical, wellness and rehabilitation facilities. Travelers from these countries will be allowed to visit Thailand for different medical treatments and wellness programs.  They will not have to take the 14-day quarantine but carry a medical certificate issued 72 hours prior to travel to ensure corona-free health status.

24/06/20

Iran prepared to welcome medical travelers from Afghanistan

Iran prepared to welcome medical travelers

Afghans constituted a bulk of inbound medical travelers in Iran nearly 48.8% in the previous calendar year ending on 19th March’20, reports Tehrantimes. According to official data, Iran’s medical tourism is growing fetching $1.2 billion in 2018. The most important fact, these medical tourists did not come for OPD visits but opted for gynecology, fertility, cardiac, ophthalmic and orthopedic surgeries. Despite the prevailing pandemic, Iran is ready to facilitate their travel. Afghans prefer Iran mainly for its cultural affinity and linguistic similarity. However, Afghan travelers have to overcome several obstacles regarding visa issuances in Iran. Considering Afghanistan as a good market for medical tourism, the minister of Cultural, Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts has assured smoother procedures to facilitate easy travel of Afghan patients.

23/06/20

Dubai 2020 Health and Aesthetic Fair to be held from 10th-12th September

Dubai 2020 Health and Aesthetic Fair

Image Source : healthaestheticfair.com

The fair to be held in the Intercontinental Festival Arena Dubai aims to gather all stakeholders from the MENA region countries. Leading hospitals, clinics, specialists, medical tourism companies and third party agencies are expected to participate in B2B meetings for stronger networking and long-term business relationships. The exhibitors will also get to participate in B2C interactions to rope in potential customers. Dubai plans to attract 500,000 medical travelers by 2021, courtesy the country’s strategic moves. This fair would provide great business opportunities both for the visitors and the host country further raising the Emirate’s medical tourism ambitions.

22/06/20

Saudi International Health Tourism Forum SHIFT to be held later in 2020

Saudi International Health Tourism Forum SHIFT

SHIFT 2020 scheduled on April’20 was postponed in the wake of Covid pandemic. With the lifting of curfew in Saudi Arabia from 20th June, SHIFT hopes to stage the forum later this year. The country plans slow resumption of commercial activities with strict adherence to prevention measures.  Domestic flights and transportation are being allowed. International travel remains suspended. However, the possibility of resuming air connections outside Saudi Arabia is currently being reviewed.

Turkey to launch covid-19 insurance plan for tourists

COVID-19 Health insurance

In a recent announcement by Turkey’s tourism minister, the country offers coverage for the cost of medical treatment for travelers. The insurance will consider every aspect of travel from the airport to hotel transfers and provide cost coverage up to € 7000.  It will be available with airlines and tour operators online from 1st July. Turkey plans to reopen to the tourists under a Safe Tourism Certification Program to keep tourists safe from coronavirus. It has also released a new set of health and safety protocols in the media. The main positive side, the incidences of Covid-19 is significantly low in popular tourism cities of Antalya, Mugla and Aydin.

21/06/20

Dr. Fawzi Al- Hamouri announces resumption of medical tourism in Jordan from early next month

Dr. Fawzi Al –Hammouri, the Chairman of PHA

Announcing this in an interview, Dr. Al- Hamouri, President of the PHA (Private Hospital Jordan) said, the country will start receiving patients from the Arab and other countries. He further said that a website would be launched for the medical travelers to register and communicate directly with the hospitals that they prefer. However, a corona test is mandatory for them 72 hours before the arrival.  The patient will be quarantined in the hospital directly. If the treatment ends before the scheduled 2 week quarantine, they have to complete it before flying back home or to spend the recovery period in Jordan.  Patients have already started contacting Jordan hospitals and an appreciable head count is expected from the Arab countries.

South Korea takes to blockchain tech to bolster medical tourism

blockchain technology

A public-private consortium in Busan has come forward to launch a blockchain powered platform to strengthen medical tourism. The launch date is yet to be announced. The consortium includes Busan National University Hospital, Gosin University Gospel Hospital, Dong –A University Hospital, Samyuk Busan Hospital and Knet Co. Ltd, a brokerage company and will soon be joined with local companies and Busan Bank.  The blockchain platform will facilitate all medical tourism-based transactions by offering services in opening an account and foreign currency exchange. An app called Regional Mobile Medical Tourism Platform is also to be launched to facilitate easy connection between patients and hospitals in Busan. Sensing the growing popularity of South Korea medical tourism, KB insurance, an insurance firm has announced launching of blockchain-powered mobile message delivery service. Even South Korean businesses are willing to accept digital Yuan as a mode of payment.

Thailand tourism targets quality over quantity, confirms allowing businessmen and medical tourists first

holidaying in luxury resort

To revive the battered tourism sector, Thailand’s tourism minister sees better opportunities by selecting ‘quality over quantity’. Instead of attracting tourists in hordes, it will target hi-end travelers with deep pockets seeking privacy and social distancing. Wealthy individuals would prefer holidaying in luxury resorts of Phuket, Phi Phi, Samui and Phangan freely maintaining social distancing. Initially, handful tourists including business person and medical travelers would be allowed from low infection risk countries.

20/06/20

Malaysia to allow entry of medical tourists

MySejahtera application

Image Source : malaysia.gov.my

Malaysia plans to allow entry of medical tourists and expatriates (top management designation) without needing permission from the immigration department, reports New Straits Times. Patients arriving for medical tourism should register with the MHTC (Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council) and take Covid screening test in their home country before arrival. Each patient can bring one guardian who will also need pre-arrival Covid screening. Patients will not have to go through quarantine as they will be directly admitted into the hospitals. However, the patient and his/her guardian will have to download the MySejahtera application.

Over 300 medical tourists stuck in India owing to Covid lockdown, Indian medical tourism badly hit staring at $1 billion revenue loss

Indian medical tourism revenue loss

What seemed to be a great relief turned into a worst nightmare. Over 300 foreign patients visiting India for medical treatment got stuck with the suspension of international flight and delay in evacuation, reports ThePrint. Patients from Fiji, Oman, UAE, Sudan, Thailand and Nigeria visiting top specialties in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad are passing anxious moments watching their savings deplete fast paying for survival.  The Foundation of Healthcare & Wellness Promotion (FHWP), an association of medical tourism companies could manage to send 55 patients back home but for others it is a painful wait.

Covid 19 has struck a massive blow to the Indian medical tourism industry projected to reach $9 billion by 2020. However, the influx of foreign patients has dried up. Max Healthcare, a leading healthcare chain used to see nearly 5000 international patients every month in 2019-20 is hardly receiving any foreign patient. The Medical Value Tourism Industry in India may face an estimated $1 billion revenue loss if such conditions continue for another 6 months in the world.

16/06/20

Kvarner welcomes health tourists ensuring full safety in the country

Sanitization, cleaning and disinfection of the city park

Kvarner, Croatia is always loved by tourists looking for enhancing health and wellness courtesy the region’s splendid climate, Mediterranean diet and ample opportunities for other healthy activities. It is the magical ‘Kvarner Effect’ that drew tourists year round. The Corona effect remained appreciably low as Croatia reported infections 20 times lesser than other European countries.  This can be attributed to exceptionally high levels of health and hygiene and whole-hearted cooperation. Beaches, hotels, accommodations, parks and outdoor recreation spaces have opened. Travelers can move freely without any restriction on passenger transport. But one has to fulfill one formality entercroatia.mup.hr before crossing the border.

15/06/20

Europe opens for travel from today. Majority of the travelers ready to holiday in Europe this summer

Europe opens for travel

From today, Europe plans to open up for intercontinental travel following the guidelines of European Commission. If things go well, the coming summer is likely to see international travel. Restrictions will be there for countries beyond the European bloc still fighting the pandemic. Spain and Portugal plans to open later in the June and Denmark would open only with Germany, Iceland and Norway. For non- EU citizens from non-EU countries, travel restrictions would be there till 1st July. France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Greece, Portugal, UK, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria and other countries have opened borders with some countries still enforcing specific quarantine measures.

12/06/20

Thailand to give top priority to foreign medical tourists

Thai tourism ministry

Image Source : tourismthailand.org

According to the Thai tourism ministry, it will give first priority to foreign medical patients having scheduled appointments in Thai hospitals. Private hospitals are the strong pillars of Thailand’s medical tourism market. However, travel experts maintain, re-admitting foreign patients would be quite a complex process with new visa rules in the process which is to be mutually approved by the country embassies.  Thailand is not considering the return of general tourists as of now.

6/06/20

Georgia to open for domestic tourism from 15th June, international flights to resume from 1st July

Dr. Paata Ratiani, President, the Georgian Medical Tourism Council

Georgia, fortunately, is one of the few countries to have successfully restricted coronavirus infection recording very low mortality. According to Dr. Paata Ratiani, President, the Georgian Medical Tourism Council, the country reopened on 22nd May and is now set to resume domestic tourism from 15th June. International flights are to resume from 1st July. The three international airports in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi are gearing up for flights to green zone countries with due preventive measures in place. Israel comes as the first consideration followed by Greece, Austria, Baltic regions, Poland and other relatively low-risk destinations. Forbes has declared Tbilisi and Batumi to be the safest travel destinations post lockdown. Medical tourism in Georgia expects a higher demand in various wellness services and treatments like plastic surgery, hair transplantation, dentistry, ophthalmology, etc.

3/06/2020

Meeting  Summary of Online conference of world leaders in medical tourism.

Dr Anna Weegen - DeutschMedic GmbH, Director

Dr Anna Weegen – DeutschMedic GmbH, Director stated, “Our first responsibility is the safety of our patients. Numerous political decisions have been done in Germany. All employees at our hospitals are well trained in accordance with the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute – to protect patients and a staff of the hospitals.
The German Federal Ministry of Health called on all hospitals in March, to shift all medical procedures. Two months later, from May onwards, surgical interventions in German Critical care hospitals are gradually reinstated.

Now the question, how have patients requests changed? Yes, there are fewer requests because people know that regular flights to our country are not possible yet. But we have requests for orthopedic surgeries, medical check-ups and other activities that can be planned for a long period of time.

The most important thing I want to say to our partners. For all urgent cases, which are mainly cancer patients, entry into Germany is possible, with a confirmation from a clinic. The patient does not need to be tested for the corona-virus at home. This test will be carried out in Germany. The patient remains in isolation until the test is answered. That’s about a few hours. Now it is necessary to be 14 days in the clinic without going out of such quarantine.

What solutions for rehabilitation after coronavirus infection did you find for your patients?

The occupancy rate in rehabilitation facilities is increasing. After coronavirus infection, an air resort involves air treatment as a form of climate therapy. Such certificates have more than 300 German towns and villages, and 194 of them have clinics for rehabilitation of patients with respiratory diseases. There are air resorts in the mountains, forests and at the sea coast of Germany.

Christos Petsides, the Head of Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board

Christos Petsides, the Head of Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board shared information of travel protocols for the foreign tourists as the country opens its borders. Cyprus is also one of the countries that managed Covid 19 effectively.Strict safety protocols are set for hotels, restaurants, gyms, beaches and other places making travelers feel safe during travel. Restrictions in entry will be in place in different tourist attractions. The government will bear all the expenses of a traveler infected with Covid 19 during vacation including that of his family. Despite the bad hit the global economy is facing, prices are likely to remain down to encourage foreign travelers.

Aureliusz Marek Pietruszka, the Head of International Patients Office GVM Care & Research

Aureliusz Marek Pietruszka, the Head of International Patients Office GVM Care & Research presented an interesting virtual tour of one of the most advanced healthcare facilities GVM CARE & Research.

Telemedicine-is-the-preferred-choice-

Swamy Sudhama, Canadian International Healthcare Business Development Consultant, Canada mentioned the trans-border travel is still closed in Canada though restrictions are less. Post-covid world would be new and so would be the ways of doing business. A general fear exists in visiting hospitals unless there is a dire necessity. Telemedicine is the preferred choice and would grow more. The future of global healthcare will rest heavily on telemedicine which can be extended to medical tourism. Countries with telemedicine infrastructure can support international patients. It can help in motivating patients to travel. Assurance of strict prevention measures for the patient and the families would be the key factor to boost medical tourism. Physicians will travel less as they would be busy in clearing backlogs of cancelled surgeries and treatments. Canadians may like to travel provided they get the assurance of safety and access to information and the destination takes full care if infected with Covid.

immune boosting therapies

Viktoria Khaitova, VIP Health Ambassador, General Manager, New York USA stated the travel restrictions are on and the country’s fight with coronavirus is on. The US is still a favored destination for medical travel by celebrities, politicians and the like. Unfortunately, the sufferings from coronavirus remain high. Telemedicine services have become amazing during the pandemic. Opportunities will be there in this region. People will look for physical rehabilitation, immune boosting therapies and lung rehabilitation. Foreigners look for valuable consultations from reputed professors in leading medical schools especially second opinion in cancer treatments and detection. It would be the end of summer for travel to resume.

Dr Prem with Ivan Rendulic, Rex Rea, Director

Ivan Rendulic, Rex Rea, Director, Croatia stressed on efforts on communicating to patients online during corona virus period, through specialized platforms such as https://psoriasistreatments.net

dental tourism

Vladimir Mozetich, President, Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster President, Croatia stated Croatia is one of the few countries to fight coronavirus effectively. Borders are opened to EU states. Medical travelers need to fulfill certain protocols in “Enter Croatia” 48 hours before stepping into Croatia. Four programs will be running as of now, rehabilitation, prevention, lifestyle and aging programs where the country stands out. There are plans to expand dental tourism markets beyond Italy like Scandinavia and other European countries maintaining strict safety protocols. Dental tourism contributes 75-80% of Croatia’s medical tourism.

Iztok Altbauer, Slovenian Spas Association, President

Iztok Altbauer, Slovenian Spas Association, President shared some happy news as well. Slovenia is the first country that declared the end of epidemic on 1st June. Slovenia has opened borders to Hungary and Croatia. From 4th June, it will open with Austria. Discussions with Italian foreign minister on Saturday will decide the opening the border with Italy. Some spas are receiving patients for rehabilitation maintaining standard infection prevention protocols. From Friday, hotels and health and spa resorts are likely to open. Slovenians will be the first to visit the resorts followed by other foreigners.The major challenge remains ensuring the safety of guests and employees as things open up. But that’s the way they go!

Lara Bulfoni

Lara Bulfoni, Associazione Albergatori FIUGGI TERME, Italy hinted about positive changes in medical tourism after the pandemic. FIUGGI TERME is one of the best scenic health resorts performing scientifically-proven natural therapies that have significant contribution to medical tourism.

EMT conference

The focus shifts to Italy. The beaming Ana Laura Ramirez of Italian Association of Medical Tourism
came up with really some good news. Italy is ready to welcome all! From 15th June, it will open to the rest of the world. All the medical and wellness clinics /resorts are working day and night to add value to the customers to keep them safe and healthy. All places will be open. Everybody can visit places maintaining specified protection measures. Travelers will be handed out specific guidelines. Hotels and accommodations are taking all preventive measures to ensure traveler safety.

Csilla Mezősi, European Spas Association, General Secretary

Image Source : hticonference.com

Csilla Mezősi, European Spas Association, General Secretary mentioned Slovakia, Iceland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia and few partners have already opened up their health resorts from May. Many of these facilities have been the frontline fighters for corona. Romania, Serbia, Germany and even France are opening up slowly. Italy opened today. She feels that this will be the year for domestic travelers most. Lifestyle changes would be prominent for prevention. The slogan – Improvement of lifestyle through natural remedies.

Michaela Kehrer

Image Source : about.visitberlin.de

According to Michaela Kehrer – “VisitBerlin Official Board – Medical Tourism Project Manager, Germany has been a long time favorite for medical travelers from many countries with Berlin and Munich being the most preferred destinations. Germany is allowing essential travel as of now. Those seeking medical treatment must carry a valid medical certificate suggesting immediate attention. Flights will take off slowly. Many international houses are closed but are opening slowly. Quarantine regulations are still in place violation of which can fetch hefty fines. For EU patients, it is open but Non-EU patients may have to wait for some more time.

Sam Awad, General Manager, GMTP Medical Group, Agency in Greece

Image Source : gmtpmedical.com

Sam Awad, General Manager, GMTP Medical Group, Agency in Greece said his company has been receiving medical tourists from all over the world. The country is ready to help everybody under any circumstance. According to him, life now in Greece is back to 95% normalcy of course with preventive measures in place. Patients are eager to travel to Greece for medical purpose and the waiting list is growing. Some flights will be starting from July. Patients will need to take Covid test their country 48 hours before travel and also in Greece on arrival. Rehabilitations centers will run with the best safety measures. Pricing will more or less remain the same beside some bare minimum costs for Covid test. He emphasized, that this is the time for cooperation not competition.

Greece is on the way to become a Covid-free country

Dr Athanassios A. Exadaktylos MD PhD, President of the Panhellenic Medical Association – (Minister of Health in near future) said, Greece is on the way to become a Covid-free country. Supported by its robust healthcare infrastructure, the country could expand its capacity fast to tackle the infected cases. Greece is likely to open from 1st July allowing travelers take a safe vacation. Greece has a good number of highly specialized medical personnel. The University of Athens is working on the efficacy of TB vaccine for Covid prevention. The country actively participates in all aspects of medical tourism.

Igor Torskiy UAMT, Vice President

Image Source : uamt.com.ua

Mr. Igor Torskiy UAMT, Vice President announced the next GHTC conference to be held in Ukraine. Briefing future activities of GHTC, he laid importance on understanding patients and their needs on a deeper level as the pandemic wanes off. Highlighting the milestones of Ukrainian Medical Tourism, he stressed the growing popularity of stem cell treatments among other complex and life-saving treatments. He also said, of late, fewer Ukrainians are seeking beyond the border treatment as the country is fast building its capacity in different specialties. He sounded optimistic, medical tourism is on as enquiries from different companies keep increasing. The country is also fairing well in pandemic management. Airports will be opening from 15th June that would help in resuming business. He expressed his satisfaction over this online event.

Online consultation

Mrs. Julia Odintsova – MedRise Agency, Managing Director in her opinion said, post pandemic medical travel will depend a lot on how countries have handled the corona crisis and emerged from the damage. In post pandemic scenario, there might be an initial surge in demand for medical services but it might slow down later. People will tend to delay beyond the border treatments for some more months. For Medical tourism operators, maintaining patient loyalty will be a big factor. They need more support from their medical partners in dealing with queries and potential clients. Online consultation and telehealth are few important tools that can build patient loyalty.

Evgeniy Chernyshev - President of National Healthcare Travel Council

Mr. Evgeniy Chernyshev – President of National Healthcare Travel Council (Russia) said Russian border will possibly open by September. Russia has a high stake in inbound medical tourism with 71 regions active in this sector. The country has taken special initiatives in sharing best practices, promoting education and framing legislations.

manufacturing medical supplies

Abdallah AlHindawi, International Healthcare Business Dev. Consultant & Event Organizer –
Jordan, said, Jordan is focusing on health, economy and growth in all respects. The country imposed strict restrictions to check the virus followed by aggressive testing and tracking. Jordan has stepped up its capacity in manufacturing medical supplies more than enough to meet the domestic demand. The pandemic committee sends recommendations to the Government. Jordan is likely to open by Mid-July. Medical patients from specific countries will have to take Covid tests and go for isolation if needed. In wellness tourism, Jordan plans to allow travelers from low-infection countries before opening up to the entire world. He believes that coordination between health ministries all over the world can help to check the infection better.

Siyka Katsarova from Bulgarian Spa Association

Siyka Katsarova from Bulgarian Spa Association started on a highly optimistic note as Covid infection cases in Bulgaria has been very low, perhaps one of the lowest in the world. Foreigners coming for medical travelers have to undergo mandatory Covid 19 test and are put into different groups based on their symptoms. Tailor-made rehabilitation programs are devised for patients with specific Covid symptoms to boost their immunity. Spa therapies in Bulgaria have something special that facilitates recovery as it focuses on prevention and prophylaxis. Bulgaria is ready to accept people with the best spa facilities.

Israel New Life Assistance

Image Source : hticenters.com

Hi ! from Israel New Life Assistance. Israel opened her doors for oncology and BTM as first priority.

health ambulance services

Ekaterine Neparidze – Director, Health and Tourism International Center, the number one health tourism company in Georgia briefed about significant updates regarding post Covid health tourism. Praising the country’s efforts in containing the virus, she hopes Gerogia to be in the limelight of medical tourism. Gerogia’s Covid count remained appreciably low. She felt the growing demand for online consultations and health ambulance services. Gerogia is rich in thermal mineral reserves and the demand for thermal water therapies is high. The country plans to open from 1st July.

Austria managed the Covid-19-crisis most effectively

Meanwhile here is comment from – Sionja Furnsinn “Austria ranks among the countries who manages the Covid-19-crisis most effectively. By now we had 668 deaths from the pandemy, the number of infections is down to less than 400.”

Hale Tokmakcioglu

Image Source : haletokmakcioglu.com

Hale Tokmakcioglu, Health Care Tourism, Turkey, briefed how the country will be gradually resuming flights to international destinations and tourism activities. All the low cost and high-cost airlines will be operating maintaining specific safety and hygiene protocols. Turkey opens doors to 31 countries allowing medical tourists avail almost all major and minor treatments.

Dr Mehmet Kanpolat, the President UASTED

Image Source : scontent.fslv1-1.fna.fbcdn.net

Dr Mehmet Kanpolat, the President UASTED, National Association for Medical Tourism, Turkey credited the country’s well- coordinated efforts and healthcare in containing the virus that prevented the overflow of patients. He said, Turkey has moved much ahead leaving the virus behind. For travelers, there would not be much strict restrictions but traveler testing at airports, some certifications for hotels and accommodations and recommended social distancing measures. Turkey is becoming a safer zone for healthcare travelers who will continue to experience the best quality service and amenities. Most importantly, there will be no major changes in the treatment costs as the country is self-reliant in manufacturing medical devices and equipment.

Mr. Abhik Moitra

Image Source : images.hbgmedicalassistance.com

Mr. Abhik Moitra – HBG Medical Assistance – Director presented a synopsis of the Covid-19 scenario in India highlighting the country’s appreciable recovery rate. India will open international boundaries gradually following specific SOPs yet to be finalized. He praised the government’s efforts in handling Covid crisis and India would be a safer destination to travel in near future. Despite the subdued consumer sentiment, India continues to receive more number of queries related to Ayuveda even from the US, Latin America and other European countries which he feels very encouraging. India is waiting!

Dr Prem Jagyasi, President Dr Prem Associates, India

Dr Prem Jagyasi, President Dr Prem Associates, India also agreed that the Covid 19 impact on tourism has been massive. The tourism forecast in 2020 that was around 712 billion dollars is now estimated 447.4 billion, a 34.7% decrease. The $20 billion medical tourism business came to a grinding halt. As a recognized expert, he suggested few interim solutions worth noting. Countries into medical tourism should open up slowly to allow medical tourists. Turkey and Croatia are following that path. Government support is a must for the tourism industry players and medical tourism companies and facilitators. And the time is perfect to develop strategic partnerships.

safety measures in infection prevention

Rahul Shukla, International Patient Care, NMC Healthcare, UAE Manager shared great insights on patient’s experience in post-covid medical tourism. UAE is placing immense importance on this crucial factor devising unique safety measures in infection prevention to instill confidence among prospective healthcare travelers.

Mrs. Violetta Yanyshevska, the GHTC President and Chairman of UAMT

Image Source : uamt.com.ua

Mrs. Violetta Yanyshevska, the GHTC President and Chairman of UAMT in her speech said the global travel and tourism plunged much below the projected numbers due to the pandemic. To pull the industry, she stressed on mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, VISA policies and special certificate on Covid 19. Many countries will resume flights. Only safety measures will ensure safety of travelers. She stressed the need for joint efforts to save the industry.  In line with GHTC motto, global healthcare for all she called for efforts from all sectors to save Covid patients and the industry.

Chinese travel agencies are opening up

According to Ms Dr. Jia Xiao Fang – China International Health & Medical Tourism Association (CIHMTA), President, Chiense tourism market is on a steady recovery path after the Covid turbulence. Chinese travel agencies are opening up. The country is expecting recovery in the cross-border travel in June – July. New opportunities are in the horizon in the Chinese market. Opportunities are emerging in telemedicine and online health consultations. Quality, security, safety, confidence and responsibility are the key factors to put the tourism engine back on track.

3/06/2020

BookingsMed.com hosts online medical tourism conference today on Transformation of a sphere after pandemic

online medical tourism conference

As countries are showing encouraging signs of coronavirus recovery, restrictions are getting eased which is promising to resume tourism. The post-pandemic medical tourism will bring in newer challenges. The destinations and providers need to be aware before head to meet the patients’ expectations and demands along with generating highly satisfactory outcomes in all respects. The conference is meant to discuss all these to take it to the full-throttle growth curve. It would be interesting to watch Global leaders from Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey, India, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, UAE, USA, Croatia, and Israel exchanging their views and coming up with great ideas.

1/06/2020

Thailand in the race to create Covid-19 vaccine to boost medical tourism

Covid-19 vaccine

With at least 100 potential vaccines being developed all around the world, Thailand government puts its hope in readying a vaccine by the next year. The responsibility is on Bionet-Asia, a local firm working jointly with the government and a renowned Bangkok University.  Putting all activities on hold, the form has deployed 250 dedicated personnel and labs in the vaccine development process. Thailand’s strategy in Covid infection management is appreciable with a little over 3082 cases and 57 deaths.

30/5/2020

Costa Rica reinvents its way to reopen medical tourism

dermatology

A popular medical tourism destination, Costa Rica has curbed the Corona invasion and is looking for new ways to reopen medical tourism positioning itself as a safe and comfortable destination, reports MENAFN on 30th May. Apart from attracting foreigners for low cost dental and cosmetic treatments, Costa Rica plans to step up its safety net of hospitals to attract foreign patients for cancer treatments, dermatology, stem cell therapy in orthopedics and psychiatry.

28/5/2020

Turkey opens up to global medical travelers achieving appreciable control in Coronavirus cases reports Daily Sabah

robotic surgeries

In the preceding week, the Health Ministry of Turkey announced the opening of inbound medical travel from all over the world after initial consideration of allowing medical travelers from only 32 countries.  Patients will be allowed to avail all major and minor treatments namely organ and bone marrow transplants, stem cell treatments, weight loss surgeries, robotic surgeries and radiology.

Healthy Tourism Certificate to woo foreign travelers

It is a joint effort from the ministries of Culture and Tourism and Health to ensure the full safety of travelers while visiting beaches and other historical attractions. This will include rigorous checks in the airport, hotels and local transport and special safety advisory for accommodations.

Cyprus plans to open, promises to bear the treatment cost of any visitor infected with Covid-19

stringent checkups at the airport

Reporting appreciably low Covid infection cases, Cyprus plans to open from 9th June welcoming travelers from low-risk countries namely Greece, Germany, Israel and Malta according to Times of India.  According to the latest news, the Cyprus government will bear all the expenses related to food, accommodation and treatment of visitors and their families if, by chance, they get infected with Covid. Till date, only 19 countries are shortlisted based on their low-infection rates. It is also opening up for Turkish health and wellness travelers. Travelers will have to go through stringent checkups at the airport and in the midst of vacation as well.

27/05/2020

An estimated 28 million elective surgeries got cancelled in the 12-week peak surge of Coronavirus

Cancer patient resting

The World Economic Forum estimates the cancellation of 28 million elective surgeries all over the world during the 12-week peak of coronavirus infection. This will not only create tremendous pressure on the healthcare systems but would also come with heavy societal costs. The study reports cancellation of 38% of global cancer surgeries which can have disastrous implications.  An additional week of disruption will see 2.4 million more cancellations. The most significant part, it would take 45 weeks to clear the backlog. This means more than ¾ th of the year will go in this even if the countries expedite surgeries by 20%.

This data-driven projection is released by CovidSurge Collaborative researchers collecting data from surgeons in 359 hospitals of 71 countries. Even though most of the cancelled surgeries would be benign but estimates project cancellation or rescheduling of 2.3 million cancer surgeries globally. The maximum cancellation is in orthopedic surgery touching 6.3 million.

Economic Times on 15th May reports, more than 5, 80,000 scheduled surgeries are likely to get cancelled in India in the wake of Covid pandemic according to an international study. Centurion Rekord on 15th May reports of cancellation of 1, 46,000 surgeries including 12,000 cancer surgeries in South Africa and that could possibly lead to untimely deaths.

The Guardian on 9th May reports of cancellation of nearly 200,000 surgeries and other important clinical procedures like cancer screening and experimental trials in Canada as hospitals braced up for a deluge of Covid 19 patients. Thankfully, that never happened and the hospitals ran below 50% productivity level. But other negative impacts started coming to the fore with reports of patients dying due to the lack of time-sensitive interventions.

Implications:

  • Thousands of lives are affected by these cancellations with a significant fraction suffering from terminal diseases. Most of them may die soon owing to deterioration of conditions especially those awaiting transplantation and cancer surgeries.
  • Those awaiting surgeries in the early stages of cancer can slip into the end-stage within months where chances of recovery are remote. These lives are likely to get unnecessarily sacrificed owing to the Covid scare.
  • Cancellation of benign elective surgeries like cardiac surgeries can also lead to untimely deaths.
  • There will be a deterioration of quality of life affecting productivity. Those awaiting orthopedic surgery can get more crippled as they have no option but to wait for an indefinite period.
  • Tremendous expense burden on the healthcare systems as they need to ramp up for clearing the backlogs with additional funding and resources.
  • Not only the surgery cancellations, postponement of routine tests and screening procedures of critical ailments are likely to increase the health inequalities faced by the marginalized people. These people with restricted access to telehealth or remote health monitoring set ups constitute a large fraction of emergency room visitors. With Covid restrictions in place, the visits dropped dramatically posing a serious healthcare burden in the near future which even the robust healthcare systems may find it extremely tough to deal with.

21/05/2020

Turkey’s lowest single day coronavirus infections raises hope in reviving medical tourism reports Republicworld

Covid care facilities

Raising further hopes of resuming tourism, Turkey on 21st May counted the least single-day rise in coronavirus infections since the last 2 months. The country has put in best efforts in expanding Covid care facilities to tackle the menace but it hasn’t overlooked the medical tourism revival plans.

To maintain its position as a major medical tourism destination, the country has undertaken the construction of two new hospitals in Istanbul one of them in proximity to the Ataturk airport to add convenience to the medical travelers.

20/05/2020

Turkey’s remarkable Covid management could boost the country’s health tourism fetching $10 billion earning soon, plans to open from 20th May, Daily Sabah

country readies to start health tourism activities

According to professionals, Turkey’s remarkable handling of Covid crisis will be a big boost to the well-famed medical tourism market of this country as the corona-infected count continues to drop. The country readies to start health tourism activities accepting health travelers from selected 31 countries from 20th May.

They include Libya, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Djibouti, Algeria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Somalia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Predicting low risk of the second wave of Coronavirus, Turkey plans slow opening medical tourism, Reports Reuter

Medical tourism updates in Covid crisis

From a staggering 4500 count of daily infections on an average last month, Turkey’s daily infection count has dropped to nearly 1000 boosting the confidence to start controlled medical tourism. The health minister also plans to arrange for charter flights if the demand picks up maintaining stringent virus check on arrival for the tourists.

18/05/2020

Iran’s tourism including medical tourism to get back on track soon reports Tehran Times

restricted the infection spread

The deputy Tourism Minister Vali Teymouri sounded optimistic about the coronavirus containment measures that restricted the infection spread in notable tourism destinations of Iran. The Smart Travel Protocol (Travel + Health) launched by the joint coordination of the Health and Tourism ministries were highly welcomed by the travel professional and stakeholders.

The healthcare system of the country set an example with its prompt containment measures restricting the number of infections and fatalities remarkably at a time when the country was hitting news headlines with dreadful numbers. With the inclusion of new technologies in the already existing medical capacities and smart social distancing, Iran hopes to post great numbers in medical tourism as well.

Changing norms of medical tourism with health passports and safety certificates -Will it ensure traveler safety?

issuance of health passports to kick start tourism

Different countries are contemplating different protocols to sieve corona-free travelers but experts differ in opinions. 112 International in its 18th May publication says, UK, EU and several countries are considering issuance of health passports to kick start tourism.

Germany aims to conduct mass antibody tests and the takers will be issued a certificate to be exempted from quarantine. Chile plans to hand out special cards to those recovered from Covid-19. However, health passports may not always ensure complete safety of travelers on the other hand it may give a false sense of security. Violeta Yanishevska, the President of UAMT, however, feels safety certificates of resorts, hotels and accommodations would be more assuring for medical tourism to pick up.

17/05/2020

The leading online daily Total Croatia News says, Italy eager to set for medical travel in Croatia

sanitization of hospital for infection prevention

Italians are eager but the borders are not yet open.  This was not the case few months before. Any Italian could easily enter Croatia but Covid has completely changed the situation. Italian patients make up nearly 90% of the dental clinics bordering the Adriatic Coast. Probably from the 1st or 3rd of June, Italians would be able to travel to Croatia to avail services but the entry would require fulfilling many protocols. Croatian clinics are gearing up in setting up higher standards of hygiene, safety and sanitization for infection prevention. As per official estimates, Croatia earns 500 million Euros annually through health tourism activities hosting health travelers from Germany, Slovenia, Italy and Austria.

16/05/2020

Telemedicine gains more importance in medical tourism

Telemedicine gains more importance in medical tourism

Medical tourism companies in Gurugram (India) turns to extended telemedicine services to keep the cash flow trickling reports Hindustan Times 16th May. Some have already initiated teleconsultation services for patients in Dubai, Uzbekistan, Myanmar and West Asia. The companies have managed to deliver their services after getting the doctors accredited with the respective health authorities. The services mainly included are pre-treatment consultations, post operative follow ups and recommendations.

Medflic, a startup company plans to set up medical kiosks in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar and other countries where patients can visit these kiosks for required consultation.

14/05/2020

Thailand rebuilds its medical tourism ambitions

medical treatment

Thailand looks forward to easing coronavirus restrictions to fulfill its medical tourism objectives as reported by Bangkok Post. With Thai emergency lockdown slated to end by 30th May, the country expects the medical service demand to pick up from neighborhood countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam as of now. Affluent patients from these countries are more likely to avail medical treatments in Thailand once the border restrictions are lifted while it may take some time for patients from Middle East and other European countries to visit this country.

11/05/2020

Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital sees massive drop in medical tourism business

Thailand’s-Bumrungrad-Hospital

Image Source : static.bangkokpost.com

Bumrungrad Hospital, the pioneer of medical tourism rise in Thailand sees a plunge in medical travelers owing to Covid-19 crisis and its revenue earnings has taken a big hit. A majority of the hospital’s revenue comes from the international patients that constituted more than 50% of the total patient visits. In 2019, the hospital treated 632, 000 international medical cases where medical tourists from Myanmar, Kuwait and UAE contributing to the lion’s share of the revenue.

Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team (C)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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