Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Reports of the demise of medical tourism – by the looks of things at the 6th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress which concluded this month in Las Vegas – are greatly exaggerated.
From Afghanistan to Venezuela, more than 2,200 delegates from around the world – hospital administrators, physicians and clinicians, government policymakers, employers, and travel and tourism entities – heard from provocative speakers, participated in a series of educational summits, forums and workshops, earned medical tourism and healthcare reform certification, networked and promoted industry initiatives across four days at Caesars Palace. (Click Here for Report)
“Medical tourism – both international and domestic – is big business worldwide,” said Renée-Marie Stephano, founder and president of the Medical Tourism Association®, which will host the 7th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, Sept. 21-24, 2013, in Washington, D.C. “More countries, which until recently may have been known primarily as tourism destinations, are testing the waters of medical tourism. Not only is this good for the industry, but — more significantly – represents a positive response to the growing number of patients who need and deserve affordable and quality healthcare, the world over.”
The platform is in sharp contrast to earlier reports from British researchers who challenged the idea that the number of patients engaging in medical tourism — leaving their home country to seek medical treatment abroad — is on the rise.
“I cannot seem to stop raving about the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress,” said Dr. Lanalee Araba Sam, medical director of Elite Obstetrics and Gynecology, in West Boca Raton, Fla., and president of the American Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “I truly did not know what to expect as a new MTA member. Suffice it to say that the experience was priceless on all levels – the knowledge garnered, introductions made and salient topics discussed. I have already recounted to my physician colleagues, hospital CEOs and frankly everyone I know in the industry that they must reserve the dates for next year’s Congress.”
Columbia Bets on Vegas
Countries like India, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal and Turkey, which were represented by large contingents at the Congress, continue to attract great numbers of patients from across the globe seeking high quality care at a fraction of the cost back home. But lately, countries closer to the United States, such as Columbia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Canada, are energizing initiatives that improve healthcare infrastructure, attract quality medical providers, create jobs, and improve procedures and treatments for both local and international populations. Many of these nations participated in the Global Ministerial Summit and Medical Tourism Facilitators Forum during the Congress.
Columbia, which has undergone huge improvements in safety and tourism, boosted some 42 delegates, many of whom took part in the Women’s Healthcare & Insurance Leadership Summit and a specially focused Caribbean Ministerial Summit.
Speaking before the Global Ministerial Summit, James Fitzgerald, acting director of the Department of Health Systems and Services at the Pan American Health Organization, said every country in Latin America can do something to move toward universal healthcare and help people live longer and prevent families from falling into poverty following illness.
“Travelling to the World Medical Tourism Congress was truly a great experience,” said Carla Stuart, director of cruise development for The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. “The conference proved to be both educational and informative. The sessions provided an opportunity to learn from world leaders, and also to listen and discuss strategies which are being used in various regions. It was also a great opportunity to network with industry personnel who are seeking to promote medical tourism in so many ways.”