Officials in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia and one of the longest inhabited cities in the world dating back some 2,800 years, are about to set yet another historical benchmark by launching a medical tourism program.
Leading local healthcare experts, tourism professionals and related educators in Armenia have agreed to partner with the Medical Tourism Association® to put some teeth in procedures and treatment opportunities that they believe will attract more patients to the mountainous region at the ancient crossroads to western Asia and Eastern Europe.
A memorandum of understanding between the Medical Tourism Association® and its new partners – to be known hereafter as MTA Armenia – establishes a regional MTA chapter that will develop training and certification programs in healthcare and hospitality and improve the quality of services offered as part of an ongoing strategy designed to welcome increased numbers of health and wellness seekers to Armenia while strengthening the republic’s medical tourism identify around the globe.
MTA Chapter Established
Chapter partners with the Medical Tourism Association® include the Armenian Institute of Tourism (a branch of the Russian International Academy of Tourism), Yerevan State Medical University, Dental Tourism Armenia and Solutions, a company from the private investment sector spearheaded by its founder, Samvel Movsisyan.
The Medical Tourism Association® made the announcement on the heels of a daylong workshop it conducted earlier this month at Yerevan State University to verse participants in medical tourism opportunities in Armenia that included careers, international patient management practices and marketing specifics for European clinics and hospitals to attract a global patient market.
“Armenia has long had a history of spawning advances in science, culture and, communications,” said Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association®. “This new chapter in medical tourism partners already established healthcare providers in the republic with a recognized academic institution that boasts the prestige of Yerevan State University to not only guarantee progress toward affordable and accessible healthcare, but also to assist in training medical professionals, creating honorable jobs and sustaining a more robust economy that the Armenian community can depend on.”
Armenia is slowly becoming a popular dental tourism destination for patients from Europe and as far away as the United States, where the cost of care can take a bite out of any wallet. Dental Tourism Armenia, through its dedicated founder Dr. David Hovhannisyan, has been offering services at packaged concierge rates where patients, many of whom have little or no insurance coverage at all, can find affordable procedures and treatments from trained specialist using the most advanced western technologies.
Almost half of the American population is without dental insurance and even those who are fortunate to have coverage, cannot afford expensive out-of-pocket costs for procedures to their increasingly vulnerable and brittle teeth.
Surveys estimate that dental services — from root canal to cosmetic implants — are the most common medical tourism procedures sought by travelers throughout the world. At least 30 percent of the American population living along the Texas side of the Rio Grande crosses the border into Mexico where they can fill cavities and a void in cheap dental care. Likewise, British patients have made the most of excursions to Eastern Europe for dental care. Medical tourism opportunities hope to make a similar imprint in Armenia.
“So many people are excited just to be able to smile again,” said Stephano. “Dental problems can be painful, but they can also prevent people from eating nutritiously, which not only lead to health problems down the road, but can also affect their ability to talk, or even find a job.”
EU Trade Agreement
Stephano, who visited with Armenian officials and toured medical facilities in Yerevan, said links have been found between advanced gum disease and heart ailments, stroke and bacterial infections.
Armenia concluded negotiations last week on a free-trade deal with the European Union, bringing the republic within reach of formalizing closer ties with the trade association. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said that access to the EU market would help Armenia “strengthen its exports, increase investment and sustain growth.”
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The EU plans to finalize the deal with Armenia, which stands to gain $193 million annually, in November, at an Eastern Partnership summit, in Lithuania, where the republics of Georgia and Moldova are also expected to achieve similar status.
The Medical Tourism Association® has spent the summer months conducting workshops in the republics of Georgia and Armenia, Mexico, and Portugal, with more to come before year’s end. The U.S.-based nonprofit, member-driven organization builds consumer awareness of international healthcare options through outreach efforts at conventions and conferences in the United States and across the globe and with initiatives including its Health & Wellness Destination Guides, Medical Tourism Magazine, annual World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress, numerous partnership and networking activities, online education and certification programs, and top-rated Internet portal for healthcare consumers, http://www.medicaltourism.com among others.
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MTA has spent several years developing a comprehensive and diverse curriculum of medical tourism training courses, certification programs and continuing education to support industry initiatives.