Fourfold rise possible in inbound medical tourists to Iran: expert

January 19, 2020 - 19:16

TEHRAN – An Iranian university professor and researcher believes that the country has the capacity and infrastructure to increase inbound medical travelers by as much as four fold.

“According to statistics compiled by the health ministry, 550,000 medical tourists traveled to the country during the last [Iranian calendar] year (ended March 20, 2019) and currently the ground is fertile to attract 2.5 million [medical travelers] per annum,” Ali Radmand told IRNA on Sunday.

The average expenditure by each medical traveler in Iran stands as $3,000 and some 70 percent of such visitors arrive in the country to receive infertility, ophthalmology, orthopedics and cardiovascular services Radmand noted.

He also noted that the Islamic Republic currently ranks 41st amongst the 176 countries that offer medical and health services to foreign travelers, adding Canada is on top of the list.

He also attached great importance to the emerging sector, saying the global medical tourism industry valued at $439 billion, which has had significant year-on-year growth.

In December, Saeid Hashemzadeh, the head of the ministry’s medical tourism department, said 22 medical tourism companies have so far been licensed by the health ministry, while 180 others are in the process of obtaining licenses.

He added that Iranian hospitals admitted 70,000 foreign patients over the last [Iranian calendar] year (March 2018 – March 2019), adding some 90% of foreign patients in Iran are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and other countries around the Persian Gulf.

Iran hosted a record high of nearly 600,000 medical travelers during the first four months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-July 21, 2019), nearly equal to the figure for the whole past year, according to an Iranian association for the health tourism promotion.

Many domestic experts say that medical tourism in Iran produces win-win outcomes as the country yields considerable benefits to international health-care seekers, offering affordable yet quality treatment services.

The country has set its goals to exceed its yearly medical travelers to around 2 million in [calendar year] 1404 (March 2025-March 2026).

AFM/MG

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