Doctors Hospital in the Bahamas will in early 2012 begin another medical tourism initiative. The Nassau hospital is launching a project with a consortium of US specialists, a spinal parts manufacturer and Bahamian specialist, Dr Valentine Grimes. Three US surgeons plan to go to the hospital with their own patients to carry out spinal surgery. Meanwhile, its specialist prostate cancer treatment centre is increasing the number of medical tourists it treats.
If the Virgin Islands is to actively pursue the medical tourism market, the establishment of a medical school must be one of government’s priorities, says Virgin Islands Party (VIP) candidate Zoe Walcott-McMillan. Her logic is that the medical school would benefit islanders and improve standards. Currently, many people living in the Virgin Islands go to St. Thomas, Puerto Rico or the US mainland for healthcare.
New president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) Dr Aggrey Irons has called for the Jamaica medical industry to restructure itself so that Jamaica may be designated and recognised as a health tourism destination. Dr Irons says that the time is ideal, "We need to expand health tourism to levels exemplified by developing models like Korea and Singapore to a level where Jamaican health care will share and sustain the reputation of being the best in the world. This will allow healthcare to be a net foreign exchange earner that will underwrite the provision of proper health care for the poor and help to stem the brain drain. The MAJ is already in partnership with JAMPRO
to this end. We have the manpower and need to supplement this with the tax incentives found in other forms of tourism."
Jamaica minister Christopher Tufton says health tourism has potential, and is emerging as a lucrative area of Jamaica’s tourism product, “Tourism has to be diversified if it is to be sustainable. For Jamaica the idea is still virgin territory, but still one where we think we have potential. Jamaica already has experience in the tourism industry and where we don’t have the specialisation, we can import it, we can create a destination for selected procedures.”
Tufton is seeking potential overseas investors to develop health-related tourism in Jamaica. JAMPRO - Jamaica’s investment and export promotion agency, says it is already far advanced in finalising a road map for the proposal. It has had consultations with doctors and the public on the issue. There is also a steering committee in place that includes the ministry of tourism, ministry of health and others. The agency says it is already fielding interest from prospective investors and has identified target companies that it will be approaching.