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MEDICAL TOURISM IN TURKEY


Turkish parliament has already taken steps to make private investment easier and unlock billions of dollars in financial backing for healthcare in the next few years.

 

Despite expectations of a widening debt to the rest of the world, the Turkish economy looks healthy in the eyes of many who continue to invest in its sun-drenched Mediterranean shores where package tours not only include exploring archeological evidence and shopping, but procedures from brain and cardiovascular surgeries to organ transplants and stem cell implantation as well.

Turkish_Bath-Hammam

Turkish tourism figures have increased by double-digit percentages over last year, when 37 million tourists visited the sixth most popular travel destination in the world. About 270,000 of those visitors came for surgical procedures, generating $1 billion in revenues, representing a small, but growing fraction of tourism receipts, which local businesses often complain don’t do what they should for their pockets.

As Turkey tries to boost tourism revenues and narrow its account deficit, the government is aiming to capitalize on the number of visitors who are willing to combine medical treatments with a short vacation and, at the same time, raise $7 billion by attracting patients to a higher quality of healthcare without compromising costs.

Cluster Development
With more than 140 members, the Turkish Healthcare Travel Council has served as a tourism cluster in and outside the country since 2008. Members consist of both national and international members including governmental institutions, hospitals, clinics, medical tourism facilitators, travel agencies, hotels, SPA and Wellness centers and thermal medical spas.

Clusters allow medical tourists seeking elective procedures to shop for value, review patient testimonials and interact with facility, staff and physicians in advance of making a decision.

Healthcare groups, located in Turkey’s top 15 destinations including Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Afyon, Bursa, Antalya, Malatya, Sivas, Mugla, Adana, Mersin, Gaziantep, Samsun, Erzurum and North Cyprus, market “one-stop” service approaches to foreign patients, covering all procedures from the day of request to the day of departure.

"A large issue facing the industry today is that many providers are not approaching medical tourism programs sustainably, which means not looking at their plan for the long-term future or local impact."

A majority of the patients come from European countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, where heavily congested healthcare systems move visitors to seek more readily accessible surgeries. At the same time, patients from less developed nations are attracted to the Western trained doctors and new facilities popping up in Turkey’s flourishing private healthcare network. Throw in cost savings up to 60 percent less than comparative procedures in Western Europe and it’s no wonder the Turkish government expects to double the number of medical tourists to a half-million in the next two years.

Izmir Hosts Congress
Turkish government ministries accelerated the push toward globalized healthcare by hosting international medical tourism service providers, investors, and leaders from the public and private sectors and academia at the “World Health & 3rd Age Tourism Congress,” earlier this year, in Izmir.

Situated in the middle of the Aegean shores, Izmir is considered a prime medical tourism destination in Turkey. The transportation hub can be reached by road, air or seas and offers 14 public, three university and 11 private hospitals as well as popular thermal springs and natural treatment establishments.

"Medical tourism could also get a bump if the government follows through on a proposal to create airport-accessible, tax-free healthcare zones, which, authorities hope, could increase the number of patients from abroad by up to 85 percent.".

During the congress, participants from around the world evaluated the current state of the medical tourism industry, identified opportunities and problems, and offered solutions during their stay in the third-largest city in Turkey and home to popular procedures that include thalassotherapy, Invitro fertilization, plastic and esthetic surgery, and dental and eye care.

Turkish parliament has already taken steps to make private investment easier and unlock billions of dollars in financial backing for healthcare in the next few years.

Source: Medical Tourism Magazine

 

M.T. SUÁREZ
 
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