The latest advertising campaign claims the Dominican Republic “Has It” – a mix of old and new world nestled between scenic beaches and luscious green mountains. Now, the Ministry of Tourism wants to make sure the tiny island nation “Has It All” for medical tourism patients seeking timely and cost-effective procedures and treatments in the Caribbean.
Determined to jumpstart the economy and, at the same time, strengthen the quality and safety of local medical services, the Association of Free Zones of the Americas, the Dominican Association of Free Zones and the National Council of Free Zones hosted the first International Congress on Health Tourism in Santa Domingo to identify and coordinate strategies that attract medical tourism patients.
Cristina Cardona, executive global program manager for the Medical Tourism Association®, said climate, geographical location, improved infrastructure and facilities and highly trained healthcare professionals already on the island position the Dominican Republic to emerge as an attractive destination for medical tourism.
Quality Is Job One
“Quality and safety are important considerations for patients contemplating a medical trip overseas,” she said. “Quite simply, even though technology, legislation, service and the removal of language barriers are significant incentives, health centers that are accredited internationally remain key factors to attract more patients.”
Alejandro Cambiaso, president of the Dominican Association of Health Tourism, said the Dominican Republic would be at fault to neglect the potential economic windfall from medical tourism. He alluded to figures that show approximately 1.6 million Americans traveled to foreign nations for medical services last year at prices 30-85 percent less the cost of similar procedures and treatments in the United States.
Wendy Sanchez, executive director of medical tourism operations for the Ministry of Tourism, will join Cambiaso at the 6th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, Nov. 3-6, at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas. Under the auspices of the Medical Tourism Association® in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Health, Sanchez will create access protocols and processes that ensure standards related to travel and care are reinforced and met.
“Health tourism has the ability to strengthen the image and perception of our country abroad,” said Sanchez. “The Congress is an opportunity to attract local and foreign investment, which is why the Ministry of Tourism will be participating in Las Vegas.”
Cambiaso said the shared experiences gained from the congress will help to design a strategic plan that combines both the public and private sectors upon their return to the Dominican Republic.