A study prepared by the Private Hospital Association (PHA) indicated that over 250,000 patients from around 84 Arab and foreign countries were treated in Jordanian private hospitals, clinics and medical centres last year, PHA President Fawzi Hammouri said on Sunday.
Hammouri, who is also the director of the Specialty Hospital, said yesterday that the World Bank (WB) medical tourism experts ranked Jordan number one in the Arab region and the fifth in the world as a medical tourism hub.
"Jordan is the only country in the Middle East that generates more income than what it spends on health," Hammouri said, adding that medical tourism revenues in 2007 exceeded $1 billion.
He noted that the WB estimates suggest that within the next five years medical tourism expenditures will amount to $100 billion, rising from $45 billion in 2007. The sector has seen a steady increase of around 10 per cent annually in the number of foreign patients since 2004, Hammouri told The Jordan Times in an interview.
According to the study, which was prepared upon a request by the Health Ministry, the number of Iraqi patients treated by the local private medical sector amounted to 45,000 in 2007, with Palestinians and Sudanese coming second with around 25,000 patients from each country.
The study also showed that more than 1,800 US citizens, 1,200 UK citizens and 400 Canadian citizens sought medical treatment in the Kingdom last year.
The PHA president said there are currently 58 private hospitals in the Kingdom, of which 44 are members in the PHA. He said the PHA is involved in major health decisions in the country and has a representative on the three most important medical councils, the Higher Health Council, the Jordan Medical Council and the Jordan Nursing Council.
Furthermore, Hammouri said that a delegation representing the private medical sector in addition to a representative from the Jordanian Investment Board will head to the US to participate in an international conference on medical tourism in which around 1,000 participants from 50 countries are taking part.
"We hope that this event will open scopes of cooperation with US parties concerned with medical insurance and medical tourism," Hammouri said, adding that a recent study by the US-based Deloitte Organisation revealed that around 500,000 US citizens travel abroad for healthcare and expected the figure to double by 2012.
He said the Jordanian delegation will submit working papers highlighting facts on the Kingdom's medical tourism sector. He noted that treatment expenditures in Jordan are only 25 per cent of the cost in the US, including airline tickets and the patient's stay in addition to site-seeing tours.
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