Caroline Ratner attended the recent Health Destination Cyprus event


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:                   50 EUROs
The average accommodation:                            200 EUROS       
Hip/knee replacements:                                    7,000 EUROS
Breast augmentation:                                         4,000 EUROS     
Open heart surgery:                                           17,000 EUROS                 
Information supplied by the Cyprus Health Promotion Board


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