‘Medical treatment costs in Iran one tenth for western tourists’

October 22, 2018 - 21:33

TEHRAN – The costs of medical treatment in Iran is almost ten times cheaper for international medical travelers in comparison with the U.S. and Europe, the CEO of Tehran’s five-star Gandhi Hotel-Hospital has said.

“That’s why Iran is seeing more and more patients from other countries,” Mohammad-Hassan Bani-Asad told the Channel NewsAsia in an interview released on Saturday.

Bani-Asad is a pioneer in Iran’s medical tourism drive, who 12 years ago, launched one of the first hospitals in the country catering to foreign patients.

“We have some 1,000 foreign patients in a year and we are planning to have 5,000 foreign patients [yearly] in the next five years,” he added.

Despite U.S.-led sanctions, waves of tourists are still flocking to the country not just to visit famous attractions - but also for medical reasons. Iranian authorities are aiming for more than one million medical tourists in the next seven years.

Data from the Health Ministry’s medical tourism department shows that the country hosted more than 300,000 patients in the 2017-2018 financial year, NewsAsia reported.

The official data shows that foreign patients are drawn by affordable treatments and high quality of services. Most of them come from neighboring Iraq, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and some come from as far away as Eastern Europe.

Dozens of five-star hotel hospitals like Gandhi have been opened to meet the growing demands of incoming patients in Iran. Event government- run hospitals have set up special departments to deal with the influx of foreign patients.

Dental procedures, organ transplants, heart surgery and cancer treatments are among the most requested services.

In the face of looming [oil] sanctions, Iran’s trying its best to market itself as a major destination for international health tourists. Health officials target a revenue of $2.5 billion by 2025 from $500 million that the country now receives.