Dubai and Abu Dhabi are among the top destinations in the world for people travelling overseas to obtain medical treatment, according to a new study.

The latest Medical Tourism Index for 2020-2021 ranked Dubai in the sixth place and Abu Dhabi in the ninth position for providing some of the best healthcare options for visitors.

The index was developed by the International Healthcare Research Centre (IHRC) based on American perceptions of medical care in 46 places abroad. The destinations were rated in different criteria, including the state of the medical tourism industry, destination attractiveness and quality of care.

Millions of people around the world travel every year in search of treatment outside their local healthcare systems. The procedures they look for can range from dental care, cardiac surgery, cosmetic surgery or orthopaedic survey, among others.

According to a 2014 Visa report, medical tourism is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is forecast to grow by up to 25 percent per year over the next 10 years.

Overall, Canada took the crown as the number one destination for medical tourism, followed by Singapore, Japan, Spain and UK in the top five.

Costa Rica came in the seventh place after Dubai, followed by Israel, while India landed the tenth position.

Need to increase offerings

The latest ranking is the third edition of the index, which comes at a critical juncture, when healthcare has never been more important.

According to the developers of the index, the medical tourism, health tourism and wellness travel industries will all aim to slowly return to pre-2020 levels as soon as the coronavirus becomes “less ubiquitous” and travel restrictions are completely lifted.

But while the virus is still raging, countries that are looking to cash in on visitors looking for healthcare options can focus on improving their offerings.

“If you’re a potential medical tourism destination, there’s no better time to get your house in order,” said Renee-Marie Stephano, one of the developers of the index.

Stephano believes that that the coronavirus should even stimulate new stakeholders in the medical tourism industry, and that it could be a catalyst for the sector to grow “more responsibly and more effectively” over time.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)


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