Jan 18, 2020, 2:40 PM
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More than 600,000 health tourists visit Iran every year

Tehran, Jan 18, IRNA – About 600,000 health tourists come to Iran every year for treatment despite having rival countries such as India, Turkey, and Thailand, the deputy director of resources development and management at Health Ministry said.

Kamel Taghavi said on Saturday at the Health Tourism Development Summit at the Ministry of Health that in recent years "we are witnessing the growth of the health economy and health indicators in the country. However, as in other sectors, the health sector, if it is to grow, has to move towards increased productivity and, of course, it is important to pay attention to the justice indicator, especially as the government's orientation is now towards reducing the out-of-pocket payments for health.

Recently too, foreign health tourists who enjoyed Iranian medical services in the last Iranian year (March 21, 2018 – March 20, 2019) stood at 500,000 to 550,000, Head of the office for health tourism of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education Saeed Hashemzadeh said on Monday, Nov 18, 2019.

Saeed Hashemzadeh said that the number of foreign health tourists visiting Iran in the current Iranian year will definitely be higher, adding that about 72,000 of the patients were hospitalized and the rest received outpatient services.

Hashemzadeh said that Iran can host up to 2.5 million health tourists every year.

He said that 70 percent of the patients coming to Iran demand services in obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, cardiology, plastic surgery, and 30 percent in other branches of medicine.

He added that the figures are variable in terms of alternative medicine services provided by the hospitals and other medical centers.

***  Mashhad, 2nd destination for health tourists in Iran

Mashhad University of Medical Sciences Health Tourism Director said on Monday that Mashad has the highest health tourists after Tehran.

Mohammad Esmaeil Khayyami told IRNA that Mashad has a special status in health tourism due to Imam Reza (AS) Shrine and that there are well-equipped medical centers and medical staff and competitive medical costs that can be a pioneer in health tourism in the country.

He added that last year more than 22,000 health tourists received medical services in hospitals and surgical centers under the auspices of Mashad University of Medical Sciences.

He added that the number of health tourists who received services in outpatient and paraclinical services in Mashad last year exceeded 100,000.

Khayyami added that during this time, health tourists from 56 different nationalities were accepted in Mashad, most of them from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Kuwait, respectively.

*** Iran's Infrastructures to promote Health Tourism

About 98 hospitals and 14 travel companies have so far been issued health tourism permits across the country.

Furthermore, Iran's Tourism Development Association has been formed by the council to help attract investment and garner the support of government entities.

The association is also responsible for promoting authorized centers and introducing them to both Iranians and foreigners. It is expected to introduce health tourism service providers through a comprehensive online portal.

Iran’s ultimate goal is to earn around $25 billion a year through tourism by 2025, around $2.5 billion of which will come from medical tourism.

According to a report in 2016 by Big Market Research, the global medical tourism market is expected to reach $143 billion by 2022. It was reported in May that the number of tourists traveling to Iran for advanced medical services has grown by 40% over past five years.

Iran has a highly-educated workforce and is a regional leader in scientific and health development. It is one of the top five countries in the world in biotechnology.

According to statistics, most of the health tourists are from the Persian Gulf countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Central Asian states. Most travel for organ transplants (especially the liver) and for various eye surgeries, orthopedic surgery, knee arthroplasty, dental services, and cosmetic treatments.

The hospitals of Razavi (in Mashad, northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi), Namazi (in Shiraz, the southeastern province of Fars), and two health centers in Tehran and border hospitals are Iran's top health tourism destinations.

*** IVF Treatment

Also some people travel for assisted pregnancy, such as in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy or freezing embryos for retro-production.

The highly-specialized Academic Jihad Infertility Center in Qom has been the destination of many medical tourists.

“Over 400 foreign infertile couples have been admitted to the infertility center in this southwestern province to receive medical treatment,” says the center's chief.

“The couples mostly came from Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Sweden, and several African countries,” Mohammad Ebrahim Faqihzadeh said.

6125**2050

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