Opportunities for medical tourism in Jamaica?

 

Jamaican politicians continue to talk up the potential of medical tourism, amidst concerns over lack of evidence and little official support to date.

They hope that it will bring in more tourists, but currently the focus is on attracting investors to set up local healthcare facilities that the government cannot afford to set up.

The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) is highlighting the opportunities available for local medical practitioners and investors with a series of lectures and led by Jacqueline Watson, of Washington DC based consulting firm Health Concepts International.

Diane Edwards of JAMPRO says, “The health and wellness tourism sector is an opportunity for practitioners and low hanging fruit for Jamaica. The sector has potential to provide benefits to the local medical community and tourists seeking medical care. This sector has evolved organically in Jamaica over the past few years, already attracting over $15 million euros in foreign investments through the Spanish Group, Hospiten, as well as developments such as G West in Montego Bay. We see potential for development.

The government is trying to attract new medical facilities in an effort to establish Jamaica as a medical destination within the next five years. The strategy projects a minimum of 15,000 medical and residential care patients and an annual income of US$125 million by 2020.

JAMPRO is also actively seeking investments for the sector and is prepared to advise the practical first steps for start-up facilities. Medical tourism is being sold as a lucrative option for local practitioners who wish to expand their existing practices.

Jamaica only gets a few hundred patients from neighbouring islands St Lucia and the Caymans, while increasing numbers of Jamaicans travel to the Caymans or USA for healthcare.

Jamaican health facilities have a myriad of structural, institutional and behavioural barriers that impede the development of high-quality health-service programmes, plus a public health sector that is ailing and creaking. A high level of violent crime and murder has not been tackled, while progress on upgrading airports, seaports and highways is slow.

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