The healthcare travel industry is an important part of Dubai's strategy, the first medical tourism conference to take place in the United Arab Emirates was told today (Sunday, 2 November 2008).
The Healthcare Travel congress was officially opened by Dr Haidar Al Yousuf, Transition Director at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), who highlighted the importance the authority is placing on the future of medical tourism. "We recognise the future role health will play in making Dubai an attractive place for others outside of Dubai seeking a wide range of healthcare services,” he said.
“The healthcare sector in Dubai will become an increasingly attractive place for international healthcare investors, providers, services, facilities and healthcare professionals," he said in an opening speech. "We want to harness this potential. By learning from the experience of others and by building strategic relationships with local, regional and international partners, health will continue to play its part in the exciting development of this very unique city.”
Medical tourism has become a global phenomenon which it is estimated could top $40 billion by 2010 and leading industry professionals involved are attending the Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress taking place at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai, until 4 November 2008.
Sietske Meerloo, Senior Marketing Manager at organisers IIR Middle East, said: “I think everyone realises the potential the medical tourism market has in this region. That is why we have so many of the major players here. We are covering so many exciting aspects of this business and it is great we have managed to attract such prominent speakers and participants."
Curtis Schroeder, the Group CEO of Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand has seen the scope of medical tourism first hand. “We treated 420,000 foreign patients last year," he said. "In 28 years of treating foreign patients we haven’t seen a decline. We have the world’s largest outpatient facility and we have seen continued robust demand. Medical tourism is real, available and has immediate effect."
The Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress is made up of four distinct conferences – the Healthcare Travel Congress, Global Healthcare Marketing, International Healthcare Operations and Financing and Insurance of Healthcare Travel. Participating countries include: Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Cyprus, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, India, France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United States, Canada, Turkey and Pakistan.
Organised in association with the International Medical Travel Association, the Healthcare Travel Exhibition and Congress is supported by the UAE Ministry of Health, the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi. Platinum sponsors are Singapore Medicine. Gold sponsors are the American Hospital Dubai and Dubai Health Authority.