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Building partnerships crucial for advancing medical tourism — stakeholders

By Dana Al Emam - Feb 25,2017 - Last updated at Feb 25,2017

HH Princess Dina Mired speaks during a panel discussion held on Saturday at the Global Healthcare Travel Forum in Amman (Photo by Abdullah Ayoub)

AMMAN — While medical institutions enhance their competitiveness by obtaining international accreditations, building local, regional and international networks for cooperation remains key for advancing medical tourism, stakeholders said on Saturday.

They agreed in a panel discussion at the Global Healthcare Travel Forum (GHTF) that building partnerships on several levels is crucial in “an ever-growing” sector that is breaking boundaries and becoming more “globalised”. 

Organised by the Private Hospitals Association (PHA), in cooperation with the Global Healthcare Travel Council (GHTC), the forum seeks to provide medical tourism stakeholders around the world with the opportunity to meet, network and strengthen cooperation in the field.

HH Princess Dina Mired, president-elect of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), said the UICC provides a platform for exchanging knowledge and offering training opportunities for institutions working in cancer care.

The princess, who is a former director general of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation (KHCF), said “connecting the dots” and building partnerships is the key success factor of the KHCF.

Such experiences, she said, are worth sharing through the UICC, as the KHCF’s experience is considered a success story among low- and middle-income countries.

Health Minister Mahmoud Sheyyab said internationally recognised accreditations for health institutions are “the best marketing tool” for Jordan’s health sector, adding that adopting existing systems spares medical institutions the effort and time of starting from scratch.

He added that receiving quality health services at competitive prices is a major influencer for people’s movement around the world.

Tourism Minister Lina Annab agreed, saying that medical tourism is one of the fastest growing travel purposes worldwide.

In Jordan, there are three medical-related tourism opportunities that could be tapped in further focus, including tourism that seeks medical treatment, the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events in the pharmaceutical sector and attracting foreign students to study medicine in Jordan.

Annab cited the ministries’ efforts to work on marketing the medical tourism sector, since it is one of the top three tourism trends, as well as optimising services and reviewing regulations, particularly those governing pricing, malpractice and visa regulations.

Meanwhile, Salah Mawajdeh, Hikma Pharmaceuticals Corporate vice president and head of MENA business, cited a new international trend of value-based assessment of medical services that institutionalised communications between the concerned entities.

From Saudi Arabia, Tawfik Khouja, secretary general of the Arab Hospitals Federation, said accreditation alone is not enough, suggesting that the PHA creates a directory of all health professionals and institutions, supported by an evaluation and rating system. 

 

President of the National Ribat University in Sudan Abdelatif Ashmaig said specialty-based accreditations help patients from countries like Sudan select the country they want to visit for medical treatment.

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