“Medical tourism can be a tremendous benefit to healthcare consumers both inside and outside of Egypt.”
Traveling can be time-consuming, wearing and even very risky in any period. Despite these difficulties, medical tourism has enjoyed a 4,000-year-old history.
Ancient archives show that Sumerians built flowing pools and temples around spas that served as ancient wellness centers for thousands of annual visitors. Moreover, drawings on old Egyptian temples display pharos and doctors treating visitors from foreign nations with the magic of warm, natural mineral waters.
Improvements in transportation as well advancements in communications have helped to raise the profile of medical tourism as a modern wellness retreat for some and a real need for others. Over the course of three centuries, Arabs, Africans and even Europeans have sought medical assistance in Egypt.
Today, Egypt appears to have all the ingredients of a medical tourism hub. Weather, proximity to Europe, affordable prices for both treatments and tourism attractions, a wide range of services at integrated medical centers, and healthcare professionals with international education and training should make Egypt a favorable destination for many.
However, there are a number of reasons why Egypt falls short of claiming a share of the medical tourism industry comparable to competing nations, such as Jordan or South Africa.
The Egyptian government provides little in the way of support compared to official attempts in Turkey and Jordan where medical tourism conferences and associations are encouraged and coordinated to create hundreds of protocols and packages suitable to diverse consumers.
Sensationalized and unfair media attacks have lowered the confidence in Egyptian medical practices. National media outlets, in an effort to sell advertising and increase readership and viewership, typically concentrate on cases of medical neglect and rarely report on successes. Medical reporting is much different in Jordan, Turkey and South Africa where news accounts are closely monitored and scrutinized by the government.
Health Ministry, Doctors
This syndicate of providers and government officials in Egypt fails to market medical tourism based upon its competitive prices and high quality standards or do they respond with scientific evidence to media criticism. More teamwork is needed for Egypt to gain a foothold on the medical tourism market in the region. The good news is that an opportunity has not been entirely lost.
What is Being Done?
For the past decade, our group of medical consultants and administrators have reviewed the potential for medical tourism in Egypt and offered these important points for investors and consumers to consider about South Sinai Hospital, in Sharm el Sheikh.
Sharm el Sheikh boasts marvelous weather throughout the year, a healthy and clean environment, and attractive tourism destinations and activities that are easily accessible by air.
South Sinai Hospital is a private facility that has expanded by 1,500 square-meters and is now capable of housing 200 beds.
Medical Services and Medical Tourism
Cosmetic surgeries including breast augmentation and lifting, abdominal reconstruction, liposuction, Botox and fillers; renal dialysis; dental procedures; chemotherapy; and Lasik treatments are popular among patients from not only the Gulf region, but Russia, Denmark, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom.
Collaborative programs are being coordinated with Arab and European healthcare providers to further orthopedic surgery, wellness programs and cardiac catheter assistance. An agreement has been established with Saudi insurance companies to treat their clients in Sharm el Sheik.
Medical tourism can be a tremendous benefit to healthcare consumers both inside and outside of Egypt and the national economies of neighboring nations. A government presence and accompanying support would be a fruitful next step toward achieving this goal.
About the Author
Dr. Fady Michael is general medical director of South Sinai Hospital, in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.