Caroline Ratner of IMTJ attended the
recent Health Destination Cyprus event in London which promoted the developing
role of Cyprus as a medical tourism destination.
The annual Health Destination Cyprus event
held in London on 22nd November, showed the continued commitment of Cyprus to
developing its medical tourism activities. The event was organised by the Cyprus Health
Service Promotion Board, a
non-profit organization, founded in November 2006 after an initiative taken by
the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI). The Board has taken on the
task of promoting Cyprus as a medical tourism organisation. It’s a good example
of how varied interests within in a destination can work together to present a
united front on medical tourism. The Cyprus Tourism Organization, the
Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and the Ministry of Health also
participate on the governing board, as well as other scientific bodies.
Cyprus is a mixed healthcare economy.
Supporting a population of 800,000, there are 2,000 doctors working in the 9
large public hospitals and 77 smaller private hospitals. Public sector healthcare spend is at 3% of the
country’s GDP, with private sector spend contributing another 3.2%. Cyprus performs well in a comparison of
health indicators across Europe. Life expectancy of 79 years compares well with
that of the UK, Holland, France and Germany.
Around twenty exhibitors attended and
there was a series of speakers talking about current issues in medical tourism in
Cyprus. Speakers included Vassilis Rologis, High Commissioner for the Republic
of Cyprus, and various other key players in the Cypriot medical tourism
community including medical specialists, and hospital and spa representatives. The
event was chaired by Andy Adam, Professor of Interventional Radiology/Consultant,
St Thomas’ Hospital, London.
Mr Adams talked about the new The
University of Cyprus medical school, which is due to accept its first students
in 2013. Mr Adams is the chair of the
committee responsible for setting up the medical school, which is strongly
supported by the government, and he spoke about how one of the aims of the
school, apart from being the first medical school on the island is to bring high
standards of training and medical excellence to Cyprus. While there has been criticism in the past
that medical standards have been inconsistent on the island Cyprus’ private
healthcare system has improved significantly and today the vast range and
quality of treatments that Cyprus offers attracts increasing numbers of health
tourists from Europe and beyond.
One of the exhibitors, Polis Peratikos
of the Cyprus Health Service Promotion Board explained that the Cypriot medical
tourism community is waiting for the government to announce that it will be
investing money to help hospitals get international accreditation and that it
is suggested that the government may pay for up to two thirds of the fees,
although this figure is to be confirmed. Polis also explained that the Board’s main
target for medical tourists is UK patients, but next year they will start
promoting Cyprus to the potentially lucrative Russian and Middle Eastern
markets as Cyprus is perfectly placed geographically as an easy to access
destination for European, Middle Eastern and Russian medical tourists. Russia is now the second most important
source of holiday tourism to Cyprus; the UK continues to be the major provider
of both holiday tourists and medical tourists.
One hospital already in the
accreditation process is the American Heart Institute, Panos Ergatondes
explained that they are nearly through the JCI accreditation process which will
take two years in total to complete and that they believe it is very important
to have JCI accreditation if they are to continue to be successful in
attracting medical tourists. Like other
exhibitors at the conference he explained that many of their patients are
members of the British army and their families and the ex-pat community based
in Cyprus. The hospital, which is moving to new premises early in 2011 has been
so successful since it opened because it has a worldwide reputation for providing
top quality medical services to its patients, with low mortality rates, low
infection rates and the same standards of medical care as in the UK and that it
understands the needs of its international clientele.
The main industry of Cyprus is tourism
and with a current annual expenditure on health of over 700 million Euros –
representing 6% of gross national product.
There are a number of new medical centres of excellence being developed throughout
the country with hospitals, spas and diagnostic centres being built.
Costs of treatment in Cyprus
The average cost of a consultation:
The average accommodation:
Information supplied by the Cyprus Health Promotion Board
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