Two new bodies are trying to bring together medical travel


The Global Healthcare Travel Council was launched at the recent International Medical Travel Exhibition and Conference in Monaco.

In the same week, the Asia Medical Travel Council (“AMTRAC”) has welcomed the Thai Medical Tourism Association (“TMTA”) into its ranks as a pioneer founding member.

The Global Healthcare Travel Council (GHTC)

The driving force behind the new Global Healthcare Travel Council is Emin Cakmak, currently Chairman of the Turkish Healthcare Development Council.

The stated aims of the Council are to provide leadership on global healthcare travel, shape the research agenda in health travel, set norms, standards and ethics, and to influence and guide policy on health travel, It also aims to provide support to countries in monitoring and assessing healthcare travel trends.

Membership of GHTC is open to national healthcare councils, associations, clusters and tourism boards who are interested in supporting the growth of healthcare travel.

The Council is currently in discussion with a number of countries who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and may contribute to the development of the Council’s constitution and structure. Croatia, U.A.E. Dubai, Estonia, Greece, India, Jordan, Nigeria, Panama, Poland, Senegal, Ukraine, USA, and Turkey were represented at the launch event in Monaco. Invitations to become a founding member have also be sent to organisations in Brazil, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Philippines,  Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Founding Chairman of GHTC will be Emin Cakmak, who is standing down from his position with the Turkish Healthcare Development Council. Yunus Gurkan will fulfil the role of Secretary General. The intention is that the leadership of the GHTC will rotate every year. The Council will elect the Chairman. The Executive Board will be composed of 12 council members from member countries.

Membership fees will fund the establishment of a head office; the GHTC will also seek to establish regional offices. The initial fee for funder members will be $5,000.

The Asia Medical Travel Council (AMTRAC)

AMTRAC will be the first formalized collaboration of medical travel associations within Asia to promote health travel and medical tourism. It aims to embrace national associations representing India, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand within its founding membership. According to AMTRAC founder, Mr. Wilson Tan, AMTRAC will show the world that its member countries are able to offer safe and affordable medical treatment comparable to the “best in the West” and will collectively raise the visibility of Asian medical travel destinations in an increasingly crowded medical travel market.

The stated objectives of this new initiative are:

  •     To aid AMTRAC members to become recognized as top medical travel destinations.
  •     To help raise professional standard of medical specialists and healthcare providers.
  •     To provide a single platform for medical facilitators to learn, update and network with other member service providers.
  •     To develop a higher degree of patient confidence and awareness in medical practitioners and facilities in the Asian region.
  •     To facilitate a forum for the exchange of views on topical issues facing the medical travel industry in Asia.
  •     To achieve global recognition as the #1 medical travel event in Asia by organizing annual AMTRAC Conference & Exhibitions (1-stop shop for medical travel in Asia).
  •     Lastly, but not the least, to develop active corporate social responsibility and charity programs that gives back to the community. 

Will they succeed?

There have been several attempts to create a representative non-profit body for the medical travel industry. If the GHTC and AMTRAC are successful, they will fill a much needed gap in providing a voice for the sector and will have a significant role in driving standards of care for international patients.

These latest initiatives will raise questions about the future role of the US based Medical Tourism Association which has claimed to represent industry interests but has retained few members and supporters outside of the Americas, Many believe that Its activities have divided rather than bring together the industry. Critics point to its focus on generating income for its founders and associates from conferences, consultancy, certification and marketing programs rather than on fulfilling the role of a representative  trade association.

Whether the GHTC or AMTRAC succeeds will depend on whether the initiators can bring on board the key organisations within the participating counties. For GHTC, the concept of a “Council of National Councils” with a rotating Chairman is a model that works well in other industries. It would work well within medical travel.

Let’s see if these two new initiatives can make it happen.


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