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TURKEY: Turkey Aims High In Medical Tourism

With significant government backing, Turkey is rapidly expanding in medical tourism and has set itself some ambitious goals.

The Ministry of Health aims to make $7 billion in revenue from 500,000 foreign patients in 2015, while it has set its sights on reaching $20 billion in 2023 from 2 million foreign patients.

Within the health ministry is the Department of Health Tourism, which aims to promote medical tourism and co-ordinate other government and private sector activity. It is also responsible for providing emergency health services to Turkey’s 34 million tourists.

By health tourism, Turkey means medical tourism, thermal/spa tourism, elderly tourism and disabled tourism. The department operates a free 24/7 helpline plus free interpretation service in English, Arabic, Russian and German; getting 700 calls a month. In 2013 it will handle 2,000 calls a month and will expand the service to include Persian and French. It has a website in four languages.

Foreign patients treated in public or private or university hospitals have to be registered with the health ministry. In 2012 Turkey had 210,000 medical tourists compared to 156,176 in 2011, 109,678 in 2010, 91,961 in 2009 and 74,093 in 2008. The Department of Health Tourism analyzes these figures by province, hospital, and county of origin. It expects 2013 to produce at least 250,000 medical tourists.

Medical tourists mainly seek eye treatment, hair transplants, dentistry, and cosmetic surgery; plus orthopedic treatment, cervical herniated discs and slipped disk treatment, gynecological and urological operations, plus treatment at ear, nose and throat clinics. 91 % use private hospitals and the remaining 9 % use public hospitals.

Germany, Russia, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Iraq and France top the list of the countries whose citizens visit Turkey for health tourism. In addition, a significant number of visitors come from Ukraine, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Romania, Libya, Georgia and the UK. Turkey attracts the largest health tourists from Germany, the Netherlands and France, as the population of people with Turkish roots is high.

The health ministry plans new medical tourism regulation this year; including regulation of medical tourism agencies, medical spa rules, rehabilitation service laws, plus general health tourism regulation. The ministry also expects that the share of public hospitals in attracting foreign patients will increase to 10 % in the years to come.

The top five destinations for foreign patients are Istanbul, Kocaeli, Ankara, Antalya and Muğla.

During 2013 the health ministry and other government departments plan new laws on health free-zones that could contain- hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, thermal tourism, elderly living resorts, and wider tourism offerings. 85% of customers are expected to be from overseas, as are 60% of doctors. There will be tax, investment and planning advantages.

The government plans a host of other promotional activities and legal reforms to make Turkey an attractive and safe place for medical tourists.

Medical tourism news13 May 2013

Related linkDepartment of Health Tourism

Information : http://www.imtj.com/news/?entryid82=418990

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