Exploring Sri Lanka’s potential in medical tourism

untitled-3By Fathima Riznaz Hafi

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board, in efforts to achieve its target of $ 20 million turnover through professional service exports by 2020 with medical tourism as a crucial subsector, invited US-based Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA) representatives to the country to impart knowledge in medical tourism enabling interested parties to be better educated in the area and take the necessary steps to move forward.

Addressing a seminar organised on 7 December, MTQUA President Julie Munro and MTQUA Senior Advisor Finance and Governance Janet Geddes shared vital facts on the significance of medical tourism and key elements to consider in rising above its competitors.

Medical tourism refers to travel related specifically to obtaining medical diagnosis, treatment and care. It is usually elective and not an emergency, with patients seeking care that is not available or more costly in their own country.

“Medical tourists are strangers in a strange land, geographically, culturally, emotionally, and physically. They may seek help for many reasons but they have one common wish: To be whole, healed and healthy again. It is the responsibility of providers of treatment, care and services for medical tourists to ensure they return home with the best possible outcomes,” explained Munro.

Pointing out Sri Lanka’s strengths as a global health tourism destination EDB Export Promotion Officer Vajira Kularathna spoke of the country’s well-developed medical systems and internationally accredited hospitals. The country practices both Western as well as indigenous services which include Ayurvedic hospitals and resorts for wellness treatment. She added that tourist attractions such as the ancient sites, spiritual and relaxation activities available could support its recognition as a tourist destination.

She then spoke of the weaknesses which include the lack of certain elements such as international promotions as a medical tourism destination, focused strategy, supporting services such as airport pick-up and accommodation, and limited number of resident doctors in hospitals and trained staff (nurses, paramedical).

Synergising strengths whereby Ayurveda treatments could be coupled with western medical treatments, and tourism activities could be packaged for a medical traveller, were suggested.

Pix by Lasantha Kumara

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/585310/Exploring-Sri-Lanka-s-potential-in-medical-tourism#sthash.LxYoCiF2.dpuf

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