A high unemployment rate coupled with an influx of refugees from Iraq and Syria has resulted in challenges for the Jordanian government to provide healthcare for all, states a new report by healthcare experts GlobalData.
The new report “Healthcare, Regulatory and Reimbursement Landscape - Jordan” states that while Jordan’s economy is developing, and the country’s medical care and welfare programs are expected to grow considerably in the future, political instability is hindering this development.
Jordan’s healthcare expenditure is higher than anywhere else in the Arab world in terms of GDP and the government provides its citizens easy access to healthcare facilities either free-of-cost or at subsidized prices. A growing elderly population and various supportive government initiatives are driving Jordan’s healthcare system to develop even further.
Treating war victims and refugees from several nearby countries, has already turned Jordan’s medical tourism business into a medical war tourism one. The pressure on limited healthcare resources may increase, as problems worsen in Syria and Iraq, while the other two neighbours, Israel and Saudi Arabia, also have their own internal and external troubles. Other countries that are sources of patients for Jordan include Sudan, Yemen, Palestine and Chad; all with varying degrees of political and war problems.
Persuading other medical tourists to go to Jordan, even if it has the spare capacity, may prove difficult if they end up in hospitals full of refugees and war victims.
Enacting a medical accountability law is essential for Jordan’s medical tourism industry as it would attract more patients from abroad for treatment, argues health minister Abdul Latif Wreikat. The government and the Jordan Medical Association have been arguing over the new legislation since 2007, and last year the doctors rejected the latest version of the draft law because it did not clarify the party responsible for paying damages to patients or their families found to have been the victims of medical error. It is very doubtful that any new law will increase medical tourism numbers, as checking medical liability law is far from the minds of most medical tourists.
Abdul Latif Wreikat confirms that in the last three years Jordan has treated tens of thousands of wounded and sick Arabs and provided them with specialized medical services, and that places a significant burden on the private hospital sector in Jordan.
Jordan plays a key role in the Middle East, especially about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the ongoing Syrian crisis. Syria and the influx of refugees to Jordan is the most pressing issue, which could affect the country’s stability. The United States has helped through the sending of USD 52 million in aid, as Jordan has never been as essential for US foreign policy in the Middle East as now. For medical tourism this is a double-edged sword as some African and Arab countries become more anti-American.