Iran Gradually Becoming Prime Destination for Muslim Medical Tourists

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thanks to its geographical position, the conditions in neighbouring countries, economically reasonable prices and advanced medical facilities, Iran is gradually becoming a destination for Islamic and regional medical tourists. Hospitals in Iranian cities offer medical and health care services for foreign medical tourists. Medical services in Iran are comparable with those offered in advanced countries.

Geographical closeness and cultural and religious similarities have turned Iran into one of the best and most economically reasonable destinations for the Islamic world and regional countries for health tourism. Iran has a highly educated workforce and is a local leader in scientific and health development. Iran is one of the top five countries in the world in biotech and nine out of 15 high usage biotech molecules are produced in Iran.

So Iran has a great opportunity to attract medical tourists of Islamic and regional countries. The existence of mineral fountains in many parts of the country, targets one market. Other markets include fertility treatment, stem cell treatment, dialysis, heart surgery, cosmetic surgery, and eye surgery. It also produces unique medicines such as the anti-AIDS drug IMOD, and other high-tech drugs.

The foreign medical tourists can be sub-divided in two groups. The first group is those who travel from advanced countries to other parts of the world seeking high-level medical service at considerably lower prices. The other type of medical tourists are those who come from less advanced and less developed countries where the medical services are not satisfactory and Iran can offer them greater health services at very reasonable prices.

30,000 medical tourists enter Iran annually; there are also some 200,000 health, wellness and spa tourists. The Health Tourism Committee sees the neighbouring countries as achievable target markets. Iran has already produced rules and regulations for tourist health care service centers so that hospitals and clinics that want to offer health tourism services to foreign citizens need to acquire licenses from both the Ministry of Health and Iranian Tourism Organisation.

Offering health service training to employees of tourism agencies and opening international patients' wards at the hospitals are among the other already adopted measures by the Health, Remedy and Medical Training Ministry. Iranian hospitals that hold a medical tourism license from the Ministry of Health arrange airport transfers as well as accommodation. In addition, a nurse can be assigned to each patient.

In addition to the GCC, many patients come from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and India. Iranian ophthalmologists are renowned throughout the region; we also have specialty services in cardiology, kidney transplants, urology and general surgery. Iran attracts patients from neighbouring states mostly for transplants, ophthalmology, orthopedics and dentistry. The reasonable cost of medical treatment in Iran compared to Europe and the high quality of medical facilities are important factors for attracting foreign patients to Iran. In addition, Iran has highly experienced and professional doctors.

Based on studies conducted by Iran tourism organisation ICHHTO-Iraq, Afghanistan, Persian Gulf states, Central Asian nations and Iranians residing abroad are the main targets. ICHHTO provides travel agencies active in health tourism with special facilities such as a pavilion for them in overseas fairs. ICHHTO has also specified certain provinces for health tourism with the co-operation of the Ministry of Health:

-- Tehran province for treating tuberculosis and lung disorders.

-- Khorasan Razavi for ophthalmology, skin care, heart surgery and orthopedics.

-- Fars for liver, kidney and marrow transplants.

-- Yazd for treating infertility.

-- Qom for its sun and desert potential.

-- Hamedan, Ilam and Zanjan as centres of herbal medicine.

Medical treatment in Iran is safer, more knowledge-based and cheaper. Until 8 years ago, many Iranians travelled abroad to receive medical treatment, while now we are medical tourists. Iran has taken great strides in science and technology, particularly in medical and medicinal fields, in recent years.

Source: Global Travel and Tourism Industry News