Newly Established Medical Tourism Association Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 03 October 2013 00:00

Medical Tourism ForumDr. Marcelo Coyi has been elected as President of the newly established Belize Medical Tourism Association and the medical community, is getting ready to welcome its first patients in a formal medical tourism system. The Global Spa Summit defines medical tourism as “people who travel to a different place to receive treatment for a disease, ailment, or condition, and who are seeking lower cost of care, higher quality of care, better access to care, or different care than they could receive at home.” Medical tourism stakeholders are hoping that the new industry will eventually end the practice of Belizeans going abroad and significantly increase the number of foreigners coming to Belize for medical care.

Dr. Coyi says the association is comprised of equal members from the medical and tourism sector. He says the new industry is a great opportunity for medical practitioners and he would like to see more members of the Belize Medical and Dental Association join the Medical Tourism Association. Coyi says that foreigners have been accessing medical services in Belize for years but “it was in an ad hoc manner”. Now, Belize will be marketed internationally as a destination for medical tourism. Patients will be offered packages which include medical services, hotel accommodation and even tours. Belize is an appealing destination because of its proximity to the United States, English language, great tourism reputation and cheap medical fees.

Potential stakeholders of the medical tourism industry attended the first Belize Medical Tourism Forum on Thursday, September 26th, at ITVET in Belize City. Belize Trade and Investment Development Services (BELTRAIDE) invited three consultants to make presentations. Mr. Luis Cabezas from Accreditation Canada International presented on Quality and Accreditation in international medical service. He spoke about the importance of keeping an account of services provided to give clients information on the doctor’s track record. Peter Nolan has worked in the global insurance industry for decades and is now living in Belize. He presented on Insurance and Medical Tourism. Nolan says Belize is fortunate to be entering the medical tourism industry at this time because “Obamacare will cause insurance companies to offer more oversees medical services to cut costs”. He says local doctors have to be more aware of medical malpractices, lawsuits and complication costs; however, there are insurance companies that provide coverage for those. Mr. Evan Sanchez presented on Tourism and Health: Importance of Emergency Response.   

The private health sector stands most to benefit from medical tourism since the public health sector will not be a player in the industry. A foreign investor in medical tourism is likely to partner with a local hospital. Money will be spent to improve the hospital’s facilities. That investor will then promote the benefits of receiving care at the hospital to their clients. Another investor in medical tourism may prefer to partner with a local doctor to provide care for their patients. A cardiologist in the United States would partner with a cardiologist in Belize to offer heart surgery to their patients in Belize at a cost more than ten times cheaper. Our local doctors will improve with more medical practice; they will be making more money, and the foreign partner will make a hefty profit as well. Medical tourism also makes the country more likely to keep talented Belizean doctors at home.

Medical tourism will vastly improve the healthcare service of Belize. It will create jobs and strengthen the economy of the country.