Friday, 26 September 2014

Medical tourism is still healthy

But the Medical Tourism Association of SA has rejected the finding on the grounds that only US citizens, for whom South Africa is a long-haul destination, were canvassed.

The Medical Tourism Index, announced at the World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress this week, ranked South Africa 23rd among 25 countries.

Canada, the UK, Israel, Singapore and Costa Rica were ranked as the most attractive destination for medical tourists.

The International Healthcare Research Centre assessed the attractiveness of each country for medical tourists by surveying 5000 US respondents on the destination country's environment, its medical tourism industry, and the medical facilities and services it could offer.

South Africa scored 57% for its environment, 64% for its medical tourism industry, and 63.9% for its facilities and services.

Lorraine Melvill, owner of the business Surgeon and Safari, and a co-founder of the Medical Tourism Association, said South Africa was the centre of medical excellence in sub-Saharan Africa and was known worldwide for the quality of its private healthcare.

"South Africa is not desirable [for Americans] because of its location. If Americans are going to travel, what are they looking for?

"If they are looking for cheap alternatives they will go to India. If they are looking for easy access they will go to Croatia or the Caribbean. South Africa for Americans is a long haul and not convenient," she said.

Melvill said the medical tourism industry was growing in South Africa.

The SA Migration Project said last year that South Africa was increasingly favoured by Africa's elite and middle classes for quality private care for road accident victims, heart surgery and cancer treatment.

According to Mediclinic, the world's sixth-biggest hospital group, the number of medical tourists to South Africa has more than doubled in six years. It states on its website that, of the 9.2million tourists visiting this country each year, more than 500000 do so for medical reasons.

Melvill said South Africa was particularly popular with British and German medical tourists.

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