Arabian Travel Market has revealed its plan to introduce a dedicated pavilion for the medical tourism sector at the 2011 show (May 2-5), initiatives that are supported by the rise in healthcare travel.
According to consultants McKinsey and Company, global healthcare tourism will be worth $100 billion by 2012. In a recent survey published by Dr. Prem Jagyasi, 35 countries were recognised as healthcare tourism providers of which the UAE came eleventh, India came out on top with Thailand and Singapore second and third respectively.
Services typically sought by travelers include elective procedures as well as complex specialised surgeries such as joint replacement, cardiac surgery, dental surgery and cosmetic surgery. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care are available.
Many healthcare professionals have agreed that price is driving much of this fledgling industry sector. According to the University of Delaware in the US, the cost of surgery in India, Thailand or South Africa can be one-tenth of what it is in the United States or Western Europe. For example a heart-valve replacement that would cost $200,000 or more in the US, costs around $10,000 in India, including a round-trip airfare and hotel accommodation. Cosmetic surgery savings are even greater.
With the development of the 435 acre Dubai Healthcare City, the UAE is positioning itself as the regional centre of excellence, rather than trying to compete with lower cost destinations such as Thailand and India.
“The UAE is clearly promoting itself as a quality destination for medical tourism,” said Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director, Arabian travel Market. Dubai in particular has invested wisely in healthcare infrastructure. Over the last few years 14 hospitals have been accredited to Joint Commissions International standards in the US, the world’s leading accreditation organisation.
In a further push for excellence the Dubai Health Authority announced recently that it was encouraging local hospitals to adopt a digital ‘administration’ as a part of a wider quality management initiative. The hospitals could then voluntarily apply to be rated by Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAN) a US quality rating system.
“This will be a key milestone for Arabian Travel Market. For the first time, specialists and independent agencies will be able to check the pulse of the medical tourism sector,” said Walsh.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and approaching its 18th year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. This year 2,236 exhibitors covering more than 20,000 square metres, attracted in excess of 22,000 visitors.