At a recently concluded first roundtable of Health and Tourism ministerial delegates came together to outline the future of medical tourism and the steps required to give it the necessary thrust. Organized by the Medical Tourism Association, http://www.medicaltourismassociation.com, the high-powered congregation of senior ministers and policy makers discussed the opportunities and requests for assistance in medical tourism from international organizations World Health Organization (WHO – PAHO) and Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
The focus of the meeting was on increasing the quality of healthcare worldwide, patient safety, policy relations and possible collaborative roles of global agencies in fostering medical tourism development worldwide. This inaugural edition was convened during the 2nd annual World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress, October 27th, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
The Deputy Minister of Health of South Africa, Dr. Molefi Sefularo says, “The Congress was indeed most productive and enjoyable as it presented a diverse view from an international forum of industry leaders and policy makers. The presence of WHO (PAHO) provided a good sound perspective on the regulatory scenario. To have all these persons present and to learn from them is equal to many years of study, consultation and international fact finding missions. It truly was valuable experience.”
“I wish to congratulate the MTA for an enlightening conference. It offered us a great opportunity to learn from the development graphs of other destinations. It also provided us a platform to network with principals in this field and to gain knowledge about best practices which could be applied in our own individual progress,” said Vernice Walkine, Director-General for the Island of the Bahamas. “We look forward to working closely with the MTA to establish global benchmarks and create enabling environment not just for our individual nations but for the entire sector.”
“Countries engaged in medical tourism are at various stages of development and there is a need to initiate healthy dialogue among the industry leaders from around the world. The Ministers Roundtable attempted to fulfill this gap and was a definite step forward in the right direction. It facilitated exchange of ideas for issues ranging from capacity building, infrastructure development, benchmarking, sustainable development to patient safety, transparency and ethics,” said Renee-Marie Stephano, Esquire, President of the Medical Tourism Association.
“This session further proved that medical tourism is a critical aspect of globalizing and commoditizing of the healthcare industry. Powerful discussions as initiated by Paulo Teixeira of PAHO/WHO and David Morgan of OECD definitely provide the necessary insights for this niche industry’s growth,” says Vivian Ho of the MTA and ministerial roundtable rapporteur, and she underlined the importance of the role being essayed by frontline agencies such as WHO, PAHO and OECD.
According to Cynthia Carrion, Undersecretary of Sports & Wellness Tourism, Department of Tourism in the Philippines, the roundtable provided an unmatched occasion to exchange and learn from individual lessons while allowing room to establish appropriate linkages. “We as a nation aspire to be a world class destination hub for medical travel, health & wellness by 2015. And to that end, both the opportunities and proceedings of this congress and the ministers’ roundtable in particular facilitate not just our individual development but that of the industry as a whole. We take back a bouquet of powerful and implementable ideas. ”
Undersecretary of Health Nasser Al Badoor of the United Arab Emirates endorsed the importance of World Medical Tourism & Global Health Congress as well as the ministerial roundtable. “UAE is a nation seeking to nurture and further develop the nascent national medical tourism sector. It was very important for us to learn current trends of medical tourism. It is clear that any exercise in promoting a nation as a preferred health destination raises the bar on its medical system which in turn affects positively the economic well being of nation.”
“We are looking at a lot of collaboration. Our recent health reform was intended to strengthen the health systems in Dubai and such linkages will assist us going forward. We are here to assess Dubai as medical tourism destination. We will implement the leanings gained at such highly informative interactions,” added Laila Al Jasmi, CEO of the Clinical Support Services Sector for Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, Unites Arab Emirates.
The second edition of the ministers’ roundtable on medical tourism will be held at the 3rd World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress in Los Angeles, September 22-24th, 2010. http://www.medicaltourismcongress.com
Renee Marie Stephano, President