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ME to become top medical tourism destination

Staff Reporter / 12 April 2008

DUBAI — With the rising healthcare costs and longer waiting time for undergoing procedures in Europe, America and Asia, the Middle East is in a prime position to establish itself as a world-class, cost-effective alternative destination for the booming medical tourism market, says a leading industry expert.

To achieve a global reputation of medical excellence and affordability, Jonathan Edelheit, president of the Medical Tourism Association, believes the region must continue to foster an environment that is increasingly favourable for the healthcare sector's private operators.

'It is important for the governments in the Middle East to continue creating an increased role for the private healthcare sector as it has the skill set and resources to help build more hospitals, implement high levels of quality care and establish infrastructure much faster than the public sector. This is a key factor in establishing the region as a sought-after destination for medical tourists,' Edelheit said in a Press release.

According to Edelheit, who will be one of the speakers at the seminar at the Reed Travel Exhibitions' Arabian Travel Market 2008 — the Middle East's premier travel and tourism event — the global medical tourism industry could grow ten-fold over the next two years, representing a dynamic business opportunity for the Middle East.

With the regional governments increasing their efforts to woo high-end medical providers, such as Abu Dhabi's association with the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine and Dubai aligning with Harvard Medical International, Edelheit believes the region is making important strides in raising its medical operating standards to international levels.

'Medical tourism is growing exponentially every year especially with more and more patients travelling overseas for urgent and cosmetic care. I believe the key issues going forward will be whether the Middle East can market itself successfully to an international audience and, as a result, build a 'brand' reputation for premium, affordable healthcare,' said Edelheit.
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