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Sector leaders highlight potential for further growth in medical tourism

By Khetam Malkawi - May 30,2015 - Last updated at May 30,2015

AMMAN — Despite the challenges facing the region, Jordan remains a top medical tourism destination for patients from countries across the world, officials and sector representatives said on Saturday.

Fawzi Hammouri, president of the Private Hospitals Association (PHA), said Jordan has managed to maintain this position thanks to its qualified medics and encouraging investment climate.

Speaking at the fourth International Medical Tourism Conference “Future of Medical Tourism”, Hammouri added that private hospitals constitute 60 per cent of hospitals in the Kingdom and few countries in the world have this ratio.

Ten of the country’s private hospitals, he said, have received the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation and 17 are accredited by the Health Care Accreditation Council, with the target to increase it to 100 per cent.

Addressing 300 representatives of the healthcare sector from 28 countries, Minister of Health Ali Hiasat said Jordan’s stability contributed to the development of medical tourism.

The minister added that several measures were recently adopted in order to encourage investments in the sector.

USAID Acting Deputy Director Christopher Crowley also spoke at the opening session.

“The medical tourism sector in Jordan… holds great potential for both job creation and foreign investment — core contributors to the Jordanian economy.”

He said the two-day conference, organised by the PHA and Pioneers Road, is important because it brings together a unique mix of participants to discuss the future of medical tourism, which is beginning to thrive worldwide.

Last year, Jordan was named “Medical Tourism Destination of the Year” by the International Medical Travel Journal. 

The journal singled out the PHA for its “remarkable” achievements, adding that, through the association, Jordan attracted some 25,000 international patients in 2012, with total revenues exceeding $1 billion.

“We want to learn from Jordan’s experience in the field as our target is to win the award this year,” Sherene Azli, chief executive of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the conference.

She added that medical travel is unique in both Jordan and Malaysia. “We are competitors, but there are ways of cooperation and we can learn from each other’s experience.”

Jordan is also the favourite treatment destination for Sudan, according to Albalola Hamed Al Hassan, general manager of a travel agency that arranges trips for Sudanese patients.

“Sudanese patients see Jordan as the best place to receive treatment, as they look for quality,” Hassan told The Jordan Times. However, he noted that offering lower prices will help attract more patients from his country.

In order to maintain Jordan’s leading position, Ayman Arikat, CEO of Pioneer Road, said this year’s conference addresses the issues of marketing and legislation in addition to challenges facing the sector.

 

He added that medical tourism is currently one of the most important industries in the world, and in Jordan, it is an important sector that also contributes to promoting tourism in general.

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