In a just released report by VISA and Oxford Economics, the medical tourism industry is projected to grow by up to 25 per cent year-on-year for the next 10 years. An estimated three to four per cent of the world’s population will travel internationally for treatment. The sector is estimated to be worth $100 billion (Sh10.2 trillion) according to World Health Organisation statistics. Here is a list of the top medical destinations across the globe according to Medical Tourism Index in the International Medical Travel Journal.
Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world, maintaining the top spot in the World Health Organisation’s ranking of healthcare in Asian countries.
According to Bloomberg, Singapore is among the top countries with the most efficient healthcare systems in 2014, above 50 other countries.
Seeking health care in Singapore saves a patient 25 per cent to 40 per cent of what they would have spent on the same services in the US.
India is one of the key players in the medical tourism industry as it strives to provide health care services with cutting-edge technology.
Healthcare in India saves patients around 65 per cent to 90 per cent of the money they would have spent on similar services in the US, making India one of the most visited countries for health care.
Additionally, in India, there is close to zero waiting time, as scheduling surgery or intervention is done quickly once the diagnosis is confirmed.
Turkey is a strong contender in the medical tourism market. Turkey boasts zero waiting times, affordable and quality healthcare delivery. It has a huge number of specialists specifically in transplants, radiation therapy for cancer, orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, and genomic medicine.
What’s more, the country’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, offers flight rates at discounted prices to medical travellers. Cost of receiving quality healthcare in Turkey is 50 to 65 per cent lower than in the United States.
The European country’s friendly visa regulations has spurred the sector as patients from Asia and Africa also access medi-care in Istanbul or Ankara.
WHO ranks Brazil as the best in healthcare delivery in Latin America. Brazil has 43 hospitals accredited by JCI and has world-renowned surgeons. Brazil is the third most visited country after US and China for cosmetic and plastic surgery.
Brazil offers high quality cosmetic and plastic surgical services at affordable rates. Florianopolis and Sao Paulo are two cities in Brazil best known for cutting-edge medical technology, medical advances, and innovation. Health travellers from the US save 20 to 30 per cent on health cost if they receive their health treatment in Brazil.
Mexico is most reputed for advanced care in dentistry and cosmetic surgery. It has 98 hospitals accredited by the country’s Federal Health Ministry and seven JCI accredited hospitals.
Medical care in Mexico saves a patient 40 to 65 per cent compared to the cost of similar services in the US. With the availability of a large pool of specialists, trained in US and Canada, this country is fairly well resourced to take care of internal and external patients in need of health services.
Malaysia has won the number one spot in the International Medical Travel Journal’s award for “Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the year” in 2015 and 2016. Malaysia ranks among the best providers of healthcare in all of South-East Asia.
Health travellers save 65 to 80 per cent on health cost compared to the cost of treatment in the US. The Eastern Asian country offers excellent patient comfort with five-star rooms that look more like hotel suites than hospital rooms. In Prince Court Medical Centre, for example, there are indoor pools for hydrotherapy.
Having the highest number of internationally accredited hospitals in South-East Asia, Thailand draws a good number of medical travellers each year. The country has advanced dental as well as cosmetic and dermatological procedures.
Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, accredited by Global Health Accreditation for medical services, is one of the best hospitals in Thailand, providing advanced healthcare services to more than 400,000 medical tourists annually.
Medical services in Thailand save a patient 50 to 75 per cent on medical expenses they would have incurred for similar services in the USA.
The Central American country has been ranked high in dentistry and cosmetic surgery, above Canada and US, consistently in the last few years. The country is also building a name in the fields of eye surgery, cancer therapy, and bariatric surgery.
The CheTica Ranch, located in San Jose, provides exotic recovery retreats for medical travellers who relish recovery in a relaxing ambiance.
This ranch is also staffed with highly-trained nurses to cater to the medical needs of these patients as they recover. Cost of healthcare services in Costa Rica is 45 to 65 per cent lower than in the US.
South Africa has highly skilled medical personnel and advanced healthcare infrastructure. It has been making medical advances, with statistics showing that in 2012, between 300,000 and 350,000 tourists from Africa travelled to SA for medical treatment.
For Europeans and travellers from the Americas and Asia, South Africa offers an affordable alternative for many cosmetic procedures, thanks to the weak rand.
For example, a breast augmentation procedure that costs $8,000 (Sh819,280) in the UK would cost about $3,600 (Sh368,676) in SA, according to Medical Tourism SA, a consultancy firm that offers health care information for medical travellers.
The East African country might be a small player in the big health league, however, its centrality and more advanced economy is a plus.
The capital Nairobi has some of the continent’s excellent health facilities, that is, Aga Khan, Nairobi and Karen hospitals who have employed highly skilled personnel and invested in training their employees.
With the planned Universal Health Care earmarked as a major pillar of the Big Four agenda, at least 50 per cent of the more that 150 million people in the region could benefit in the long term.