| 26 February, 2017

Jordan to boost medical tourism sector

Efforts to enhance the sector's performance include encouraging investments and expanding the industry

Image used for illustrative purposes.
Dr. Benjamin Warf discusses images of the spine of four-year-old Emma Guarino at Children's Hospital in Boston

Image used for illustrative purposes. Dr. Benjamin Warf discusses images of the spine of four-year-old Emma Guarino at Children's Hospital in Boston

Reuters/Brian Snyder
26 February 2017
By Dana Al Emam

AMMAN — The government is committed to tackling impediments facing the medical tourism sector and to taking the necessary measures to boost the industry's performance, Prime Minister Hani Mulki said on Saturday.

Efforts to enhance the sector's performance include encouraging investments, expanding the industry and signing international agreements that can build on achievements and successes, he noted in his remarks at the Global Healthcare Travel Forum (GHTF).

The premier, who was deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah, highlighted the sector as one of the major contributors to the national economy, but he acknowledged that the sector has been witnessing challenges due to regional unrest.

Organised by the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) in cooperation with the Global Healthcare Travel Council (GHTC), the forum seeks to provide medical tourism stakeholders around the world with the opportunity to meet, network and strengthen cooperation in the field.

The two-day conference, which started on Saturday, is marked by the participation of over 500 participants from 40 countries under the theme “Globalisation of Healthcare”. The event is also scheduled to host the GHTC general assembly meeting.

Forum Chairman Fawzi Hammouri highlighted the growing importance of the sector internationally, adding that its worldwide annual revenues reach $100 billion, with a 5 per cent annual growth. This encourages countries to maximise efforts to become distinguished medical tourism destinations.

In Jordan, the sector’s quality services were achieved by trained professionals and an encouraging investment climate that allowed private hospitals to comprise 60 per cent of all hospitals in the country, said Hammouri, who also chairs the PHA and is president of the GHTC.

However, the current political turmoil in several countries in the region has negatively influenced the mobility of citizens of war-torn countries, and has consequently lowered the number of medical tourists to the Kingdom, he noted.

Jordan annually hosts around 300,000 visitors for medical purposes, according to organisers.

The health professional urged the government to come up with “suitable and secure solutions” for visitors from countries with visa restrictions.

Health Minister Mahmoud Sheyyab said Jordan has the needed assets and technical capabilities to build a comprehensive medical tourism sector among regional conditions, adding that the Kingdom has secured its place on the medical tourism map by hosting this forum.

He added that the sector receives continuous Royal support and has been able to achieve successes and breakthroughs in several fields of medicine. 

For her part, HRH Princess Ghida Talal, chairperson of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation’s board of trustees, said medical tourism has had a remarkable role in advancing healthcare services in Jordan and maintaining their quality.

She cited the Royal Medical Services as the Kingdom’s pioneering institution in achieving medical breakthroughs, followed by other centres, including the King Hussein Cancer Centre.

Over the past 15 years, the centre has obtained the most prestigious international medical accreditations and has been ranked first among developing countries and sixth internationally as an institution specialised in cancer treatment, the princess noted.

Meanwhile, Emin Cakmak, GHTC founder and honourary chairman, commended Jordan as a centre of medical excellence in the region.

© Jordan Times 2017