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Dominican Republic’s Giant Strides to Becoming a Global Leader in Medical Tourism

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The government of the Dominican Republic for over a decade has collaborated with the Medical Tourism Association,, to learn strategies to upturn the healthcare space for the global market and reach its target of attracting more than one million medical tourists yearly by 2043.  

The Medical Tourism Association has worked together with the Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS), led by Alejandro Cambiaso, since this movement for global medical tourism began, promoting healthcare initiatives to attract international healthcare buyers and payers, and pushing its healthcare infrastructure to achieve the highest quality of care and global standards and best practices.  

This strategic collaboration has driven healthcare developments and investment and strengthened the country’s international market. The government has invested heavily in building new healthcare facilities to meet the global pent-up demand for elective care, constructing new high-tech hospitals, wellness hotels and outpatient centers. These new strategies have scaled up the standards and quality in the country as it has gone on to achieve some international healthcare accreditations.  Global Healthcare Accreditation recently announced that it has started the process to award accreditation in medical travel services to the first facility in the Dominican Republic.  

Jonathan Edelheit, CEO of the Medical Tourism Association traveled to the Dominican Republic in February to meet with private and government stakeholders. A press conference was held where the Minister of Health, Dr. Victor Atallah, Minister of Public Health, spoke about the commitment of the Dominican Republic to medical tourism and the push for international accreditation. Jonathan Edelheit, said at the press conference about the importance of international accreditation and the private sector and government continuing to work together to achieve their vision.

Left to right ; Lorenzo Ramírez, Executive Director of Dominican Institute of Quality; Alejandro Cambiaso, president of Dominican Medical Tourism Association; Jonathan Edelheit, President and Chairman Medical Tourism Association; and David Llibre president ASONAHORES

This partnership has harnessed the unique offerings of private partnership, developing cutting-edge technology to strengthen local healthcare, and promoting healthcare innovation and world-class outcomes.  

Consequently, global demand for healthcare services, particularly plastic surgery and dental procedures, has surged in the Dominican Republic in the last few years, with demand not only driven by the improved quality of healthcare but also its competitive prices.  

The average expenditure of a health tourist visiting the Dominican Republic for an advanced cosmetic or dental procedure, inclusive of accommodation, feeding, and other logistics, is $7,500, more than 60% cost savings compared to having a similar procedure done in the U.S. or the UK.  

This rapid shift in medical tourism in the Republic attracted nearly 270,000 medical tourists in 2022, more than half of whom visited for dental treatments, 40,000 for plastic surgery, and 26,290 for other surgical procedures.

Jonathan Edelheit, CEO and President, Medical Tourism Association

This followed its ranking among the top medical tourism destinations by the Medical Tourism Index 2020-2021 report (developed by the Medical Tourism Association in collaboration with the International Healthcare Research Center), rating the country 19 among 46 destinations, a ranking it earned from being one of the top 10 in the Medical Tourism Industry category of the rating.    

This translated to an average income of more than $1.3 billion for the Dominican Republic from medical tourism in 2022, equivalent to more than 72 billion Dominican Pesos. The country’s tourism association estimates that by 2028, more than 500,000 medical tourists would be received in the Dominican Republic, a 47% increase from the figure in 2022, with an estimate of 30% annual increase every year from 2028 until 2033.  

In a recent press conference held by the ADTS in collaboration with some of its partnering organizations, including the Medical Tourism Association, the government announced the launch of the "Quality Seal as a Technical Standard for the Substantial Improvement of Medical Tourism," highlighting the country’s remarkable progress in transforming its medical tourism industry to meet global demands.  

The aim of the event was to highlight the position of the Dominican Republic as a safe destination for medical tourism, launching a new era of opportunities and market expansion for the country’s medical tourism market.  

The announcement was made by the Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance, Victor Atallah, who explained that the Seal was designed based on compliance with local standards for habilitation and accreditation from the Ministry of Public Health, the regulatory standards of the Ministry of Tourism, and, in addition, specialized international ISO standards for medical tourism, which have been validated by dozens of countries.

Left to right Dr.Alejandro Cambiaso, president of Dominican Medical Tourism Association, Dr. Victor Atallah, minister of public health, Lorenzo Ramirez, executive Director of Dominican Institute of Quality and Amelia Reyes Mora, VP Dominican medical Tourism Association

The Seal is another effort by the government of the Dominican Republic to consolidate its strategies to birth a global medical tourism hub. The tool is based on criteria developed for the sector's value chain, aiming to guarantee best practices and patient safety through protocols and standards that will increase confidence in the country as a destination for the health services increasingly demanded by tourists.

"This seal that we are making available to you today adds value to the work you have already been doing for the benefit of the country and will allow us to be more competitive in an increasingly important and growing medical tourism market," the minister said.

"There is no doubt that health is essential for achieving common well-being and an end to human development, just as there is no doubt that the Dominican Republic has been positioning itself as one of the main destinations for medical tourism in Latin America," he concluded.

Alejandro Cambiaso, president of the Association of Health Tourism, stated that despite the challenges the country faces, the implementation of a Technical Standard for Medical Tourism is a significant step forward, defining quality criteria for the sector's value chain to promote best practices and safety for patients and their families.

"In this way, compliance with local and international standards is encouraged to continue strengthening confidence in the country as a destination for providing health services," he said.

The future is exciting for medical tourism in the Dominican Republic as the key players are building the framework and strategies to position it as a major medical tourism destination. With a target of attracting more than 1 million international patients by 2043, the government of the Dominican Republic is leveraging strategic collaborations, innovative healthcare initiatives, cutting-edge technologies, and advanced medical initiatives to seal its place as a global leader in medical tourism.  

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