Chance to cash in on medical tourism
Caribbean countries like Barbados should see medical tourism as “a regional force for economic growth”.
That consensus emerged among 3 000 participants attending the World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress held last month in Washington.
Grenada ambassador to the United States, Dr Angus Friday, said there were a number of opportunities for medical tourism development in the region.
While pointing to a number of challenges in “building a billion-dollar industry in a small island developing state”, Friday said there were encouraging signs, using the “increased valuation of St George’s University and the chancellor’s idea for a medical-free trade zone” as an example.
These views were shared by Trinidad and Tobago’s ambassador to the US, Dr Neil Parsan, who is also chairman of the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors in Washington.
“There is ample opportunity for the development of medical tourism in the Caribbean,” he said.
He pointed to several developments in 2016 for Trinidad and Tobago, including a children’s hospital, an oncology centre and an opthalmic centre.
At the meeting Marc Fetscherin, an associate professor of international business and marketing at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, presented the findings of a two-year statistical research project on three dimensions of medical tourism.
The research, which he said involved multiple surveys of several thousand residents of the US, outlined precise criteria, and developed a medical tourism index, which measures countries by perception of categories that included country environment (including political environment), destination attractiveness, medical tourism costs, and facilities and services.
“We assessed only what Americans think of tourism destinations, not other countries,” Fetscherin explained.
The results of the medical tourism index (for 25 countries only, due to low response rates) showed that Americans ranked Canada at the top followed by the United Kingdom, Israel, Singapore and Costa Rica. (SC)