Weak currency boosts Russia medical tourism

 

The number of medical tourists to Russia is growing, as healthcare is made more affordable by the weak ruble.

According to Russia’s Association of Medical Tourism, fertility tourism is one of the most popular areas for medical tourists due to low prices and high quality. Russia has more flexible and liberal reproductive legislation than most countries. Foreigners go to Russia to seek donor eggs and surrogacy arrangements.

Egg donation is now legal in Russia. The U.K. prohibits any kind of financial compensation for egg donors, while Israel enforces a strict age limit for in vitro fertilization treatment, which is why many people consider travelling to Russia.

According to ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology), Russia is one of the most effective countries in assisted reproductive technology.

40% of medical tourism is now dental tourism mainly due to increased numbers of Chinese groups that visit a dentist’s office in-between guided tours.

Most medical tourists are from neighbouring post-Soviet countries, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Belarus; with a few from Italy, Ireland, France, Serbia, China, the United States, Australia, and Canada.

Oncology is in demand with cancer patients travelling from countries including Iran. The demand for vascular surgery is increasing, too. Most patients seek vein stripping to treat varicose veins in legs.

Medical tourism to Russia is being held back by the time limits on medical visas. For many treatments a patient needs a visa to be e valid for four to six months and be multi-entry, which it is not at present.

According to Igor Lanskoi, advisor to the Russian health minister, medical tourism revenue in 2016 was between $108 and $154 million- but how this figure is arrived at is unknown as there is no data collection.

Health tourism is still limited to the same countries it has always had- Azerbaijan and former Soviet republics, due to lack of advertising. That many health resorts are in the politically disputed region of Crimea makes it impossible to target Europeans or Americans.

According to the Russian Medical Tourism Association medical tourists are from-

  • CIS countries 73%
  • Baltic states 13%
  • Europe 10%
  • USA 4%

Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was formed when the former Soviet Union (now called Russia) totally dissolved in 1991. It consists of ten former Soviet Republics: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

The Baltic States are three countries of Europe, once occupied by the Soviet Union that broke away in 1990—91 - Estonia. Latvia, Lithuania.

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