TURKS AND CAICOS: Caribbean island takes next step into developing medical tourism.

 

Another Caribbean island has taken the next step into developing medical tourism.

Early in 2014 the governor, Peter Beckingham, announced the British overseas territory’s plans to develop a medical tourism policy as part of wider tourism campaign to extend the types of tourism on offer.

The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The islands are 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti.)

The islands are home to 31,000 full time residents, and welcome more than 200,000 tourists annually. Upmarket tourism is centred on Providenciales. Coral reefs and 200 miles of beaches draw holidaymakers and divers, mostly from the US and Canada.

Wealthy retirees are among the more recent settlers. At the other end of the economic scale, migrants come from impoverished Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In turn, thousands of Turks and Caicos citizens take advantage of job prospects in the neighbouring Bahamas.

There is a modern hospital system comprising two state-of-the-art medical centres, managed by InterHealth Canada; Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk.

For major surgery or specialist care, locals go to the Bahamas or Miami.

Recently, two surgeons in Calgary, Canada, have occasionally been flying to the Turks and Caicos to perform joint procedures on Canadian patients. The service is coordinated by Global MedChoices, a company based in Memphis, Tennessee.

The territory’s cabinet has approved the setting up and membership of a medical tourism steering committee. But it gave it a short deadline of 12 months to develop clear policies for the operation of medical tourism activities in the hospitals in Providenciales and Grand Turk.

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