Oct 9, 2019, 5:18 PM
Journalist ID: 2078
News Code: 83510592
3 Persons
Iran presents itself as regional health tourism spot
Tehran Province Governor Mohsen Bandpay, left, shakes hands with Zakariya Said Faraj Alghassani, Chairman of Omani Seerabeece International Group, right, at Homa Hotel in Tehran on Wednesday. IRNA

Tehran, Oct 9, IRNA - Iran’s advances in cutting-edge medical technologies and services is turning the country into a regional hub for health tourism, a new sphere of forex revenues for a country that is hard at work to diversify its economy, finding new breathing room under the US unilateral economic sanctions. 

Tehran’s Homa Hotel played host to an important event on Wednesday; fourth International Health Congress of Islamic Countries that saw the participation of important regional states and one European country; Serbia. 

“It’s not rate that Serbia which is not an Islamic country has taken part in this year’s event,” Serbia’s Ambassador to Iran Dragan Todorovich told IRNA before he was called on to address the audience. 

“We are here with four representatives of our companies, one of which is a big spa with huge foreign clientele. We in Serbia want to deepen cooperation with Iran in terms of health tourism,” he added in the interview. 

Afghanistan, Turkey, Malaysia, India, Azerbaijan Republic, Oman, Russia and Serbia sent their high representatives to participate in an event that was meant to create a networking platform for big medical centers to connect with each other and expand their market. 

“There is no specialized operation that can’t be carried out in Iran,” said Alireza Zaali, President of the 4th International Health Congress of Islamic Countries, addressing hundreds of people in Homa Hotel on Wednesday.

He mentioned that Iran has taken leaps in development of cutting-edge science and that common cultural and historical backgrounds of regional countries make Iran a great health tourism spot in the region, noting that Iranians’ hospitality makes every foreign patient feel at home. 

The three-day event, organised by the Center for Development of Health Tourism between Islamic Countries, is also showcasing the services and abilities of several Iranian, Azerbaijani and Omani companies that are actively involved in regional health tourism. 

Treata General Hospital, located in the west of the Iranian capital, is one of those Iranian medical facilities that has delved into health tourism since five years ago. 

“It’s going very great. We have had many patients from various countries such as the Arab littoral states in the Persian Gulf,” … Qafuri, head of Treata General Hospital’s International Patients Department (IPD) told IRNA during the event. 

“Treata was an Iranian doctor that helped Rudabeh [one of Iran’s mythical figures] to give birth to Rostam by Cesar Section and not let the mother die. While, Cesar, the Roman Emperor, was born but his mother died. The English word “treat” is derived from his name. He is considered to be Iran’s first ever surgeon,” she added, explaining the origins of the name. 

According to Qafuri, Treata Genera Hospital is a perfect place for health tourism as it’s very close to several wonderful touristic sites of Tehran: Chitgar Lake and Bam Land shopping and relaxation center. 

“We are not limiting ourselves to regional patients. In Treata we are thinking to open a VIP section for Europeans, especially the British if and when the country leaves the European Union (EU),” Treata IPD head said in the interview. 

“Iran’s health section is very interesting for Europeans for state-of-the-art equipment used in treatment. It’s also very cost-effective like a doctor’s visit is only $10, which is nothing for a European national in compare to their own or other countries,” she stressed. 

Qafuri, who runs Treata Hospital’s IPD, says so far up to four sex change cases have been treated at the facility. “It’s much easier for them in Iran as they have to go through lots of processes in their countries,” she noted. 

"Over the past 10 years, the number of foreign tourists visiting Iran for medical treatment and health tourism has increased 10 times", Iran's Deputy Minister of Health and Medical Education Iraj Harirchi was cited as saying in June.

One of the great potential countries in Iran’s eastern neighbor Afghanistan, whose patients prefer India to Iran for seeking low cost but high quality medical services. 

“Each year an Afghan pays up to $500 on average for their medical treatment in India,” said Wahid Majrooh, Senior International Advisor to Afghanistan’s Public Health minister in an interview with IRNA. 

“If we unite as one nation with common cultural background, we will have many capabilities in health tourism to explore,” he added. 

The international event was held in Tehran, the Iranian capital, that is home to nearly 12 million people. 

Most of Iran’s advanced hospitals and medical centers are located in the urban metropolis, which eyes the biggest chunk of the share of foreigners who are seeking medical services in Iran. 

Addressing the fourth International Health Congress of Islamic Countries, Mohsen Bandpay, Tehran Province Governor, boasted that Tehran will become the capital of Iran’s health tourism. “There are many great potentials in Tehran that can attract hundreds and thousands of foreign tourists to be treated at hospitals in the capital,” he reiterated. 

Not everyone is into the use of chemical pharmas to treat patients. Those who are innovating in cure are also looking for their own share of a rising demand for non-chemical treatment. 

Gudrat Yagubov, branch director of Bioloji Tebabat, Clinic of Bioregulatory System Medicine in Azerbaijan Republic, says their treatment is much more effective because “they don’t harm patients at all.”   

“In biological medicine, the treatment is aimed at eliminating the disease through the stimulation of detoxification processes, and recovering the disorders in the biological system of the organism. Encouraging the natural processes of healing and individual approach to the treatment of the patient - this is the main distinguishing feature of biological medicine,” reads an explanatory note on the clinic’s website. 

Tehran Province Governor Mohsen Bandpay addresses the 4th International Health Congress of Islamic Countries in Homa Hotel in Tehran on Wednesday. IRNA

 
“200 specialized doctors work at our clinics across Azerbaijan. We are expanding our market and Iran is a perfect place for medical cooperation and joint investment,” Yagubov told IRNA. 

Ertugrul Ercan, International Patient Service Coordinator of Medical Park İzmir Hospital, a 301-bed medical center in the Turkish city of Izmir, said in an interview with IRNA that, he was looking for closer cooperation and relations between Turkish and Iranian medical facilities. 

“We are seeking joint investment in health tourism with Iran. I also invite all Iranian patients who need treatment for bone marrow transplantation and other orthopedic diseases to visit us in Izmir,” he added. 

Medical tourism in Iran made an economic contribution of around $1.2 billion to the country in the past Iranian year (March 2017-March 2018), according to the Health Ministry. 

Iran attracted around 300,000 medical tourists in 2017 and the number nearly doubled over its next year, the ministry says. 

Iran has set its goals to exceed its yearly medical tourists to around two million in the Iranian year of 1404 (2025). 

Report by Ali Dashti 

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