Promotion of medical tourism stressed

Karachi: Pakistan has a great potential of medical tourism and the government should take serious steps to promote this neglected sector, said Haji Fazl Kadir Khan Sherani, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), speaking at a ‘Roundtable on Promotion of Medical Tourism’ here Friday.

He said there is huge potential for medical tourism in Pakistan which is being highlighted by the FPCCI. He said the stakeholders from the concerned segments including hospitals/teaching universities, tour operators, hotel association, insurance companies, social work bodies and PIA should have to play their due role in this regard.

Siddique Sheikh, Advisor on CSR at FPCCI welcomed the participants.

Salman Javed Chairman ECO CCI Tourism Council (Pakistan Chapter) informed the house that the meeting was being held as a followup to the 3rd Conference on Health Tourism in Islamic Countries which was held in December 2012, in Mashhad, Iran. A delegation from FPCCI comprising of Salman Javed, Dr. Abdul Bari Khan, Dr. Tahir Sheikh and Siddique Sheikh had attended the conference.

Zahid Hamid, a leading Medical Tourism Facilitator based at London, addressed the conference through video link from London and informed the house that he has been sending medical tourists from UK to Pakistan since 2006, and, Pakistan has the potential to attract this segment. He made various suggestions, including improving the conversational English of them paramedical staff, and utilizing for this purpose the idle capacity of Medical Institutions of the Armed Forces.

Participants identified the core areas where Pakistan can promote medical tourism such as dental care, cardiac surgery, kidney ailments and treatment, optical care, fertility treatment and cosmetic surgery. Furthermore participants opined that Pakistan is able to offer a range of treatments for a fraction of the cost of treatments abroad, for heart surgery, liposuction and fertility treatment.

The participants noted that though law and order situation was a deterrent, yet the fact that operation costs are lower in Pakistan than India, and nearly onefifteenth of the rates in west, therefore the medical tourism industry, which is at a nascent stage in Pakistan, can be promoted if awareness is created about the demand and supply position of the industry and marketing of our product is improved.

They hoped that even though these are the main issues, yet we will soon be able to overcome them with hard work and resolve.

It was decided that a country case of the medical tourism products of Pakistan will be prepared by the R&D Department of FPCCI, based upon which a core group will be formed to promote medical tourism in Pakistan.

The participants also requested the teaching hospitals/tour operators/ hoteliers to hold seminars on the importance of medical tourism.