To repair the damage done to tourism Cyprus is working overtime to enhance its attractiveness as a medical destination despite the pandemic.
An international health service provider is building a network of private hospitals offering their services to patients globally, is aiming to put Cyprus on the map as a medical tourism hub.
Following agreements with Cypriot private hospitals and health institutions, IMER (International Medical Evaluation and Referral) has signed a deal with the Private Hospital Evangelismos in Paphos.
Evangelismos is the latest hospital to hop on the train, following the Apolloneio, the Plato Rehabilitation Centre (both in Nicosia) while the organisation is in talks with health institutions.
Evangelismos, recently renovated, has a highly equipped cardiological ICU and operation rooms, diagnostic department, as well as a fully organized maternity clinic.
It is capable of welcoming cases from abroad for all specializations offering the highest quality of medical services.
Already offering Cypriot patients’ treatment at the best innovative and technologically advanced medical institutions in Israel, France, Germany, and Cyprus, IMER is expanding its activities to inbound medical tourism.
Talking to the Financial Mirror, Marianna Fortoma, IMER’s Commercial and Business Development Manager, said: “Cyprus is a potential medical services destination, apart from a sunny tourist destination.
“That is why IMER Medical Services, is expanding its activities to inbound medical tourism, aiming at attracting patients from the Middle East and Russia”.
IMER is a global healthcare provider with authorized representatives in Greece and Cyprus for referrals to Hadassah University Hospital in Israel, A. de Rothschild Foundation Hospital in Paris, Asklepios Clinic in Hamburg, and other hospitals in Europe.
“Today we are experiencing both qualitative and quantitative shifts inpatient mobility, as people travel from richer to less-developed countries to access health services. And that is where Cyprus fits in,” said Fortoma.
More countries are starting to see the financial benefits from this emerging market, so they offer premium medical services at notably lower prices.
Fortoma believes Cyprus is in a position to offer high-quality medical care at half or even less, of the cost of top-notch medical institutes in more advanced countries such as Israel and Germany.
Cyprus also offers a wide variety of services, ranging from necessary surgery to various alternative treatments.
“Indicatively, a knee replacement surgery in Israel would cost, on average, some €27,000, while the same operation in Cyprus would cost €5,000”.
Robot aided surgeries
Cyprus medical centres have a reputation for high-quality orthopaedics, rehabilitation after neurosurgery with an excellent track record for general surgeries and robot-assisted surgeries.
“The island is host to one of the best urologist surgeons with expertise in robot-assisted surgeries,” said Fortoma.
“A prostatectomy in a medical centre in Israel could cost some €28,000. It can be done with just €13,000 at a hospital in Cyprus.”
Cyprus also boasts one of the highest success rates for ‘in vitro’ fertilisation, a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body.
Hospitals also offer the opportunity for overseas patients to travel to Cyprus with their doctors to undergo an operation or a treatment.
It is helpful for patients from the Middle East who seek access to higher quality services offered by health institutions in Israel, but because of the political situation, they cannot travel there.
“In this case, they can travel to Cyprus and have their physician follow them to the island to operate here.”
IMER is building an international network of associates, as well as collaborations in Cyprus for the promotion of a complete tourist package.
Medical tourism is the process of travelling outside the country of residence to receive medical care.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said that growth in the popularity of medical tourism has long captured the attention of policymakers in Cyprus.
Perdios confirmed that authorities have made medical tourism one of the pillars of the strategic action plan for enhancing Cyprus tourism for the decade to 2030.
He said medical tourism can be broadened to include the health and wellness sector which he believes must turn to “holistic wellness”.
“Health and wellness should now have a holistic approach, linked to healthy eating, activities in nature to reduce stress, mental health, detoxification programs, sun exposure for Vitamin D absorption, fresh air, conducting personal medical examinations…”
Perdios said medical tourism is highly specialised, like cruises, cycling, gastronomy or sports tourism which can make Cyprus an all-year destination and create jobs.
Sun, sea, recovery
Cyprus travel agents are also doing their bit to develop alternative forms of tourism.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, Vasilis Stamataris, president of the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents said they are looking to engage in other forms of tourism, rather than just offering sun and sea packages.
“Thanks to the wide variety of modern private hospitals and clinics, excellent medical facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and experienced medical and paramedical staff – Cyprus is rapidly becoming a popular choice for medical tourism.
“Therefore, the island offers the possibility for both treatment and recovery.
“Cyprus is at the crossroads of three continents, we need to take advantage of its location by offering different quality services, focusing on the development of business, sport and winter tourism in general,” said Stamataris.
He is promoting Cyprus as a destination for medical tourism in cooperation with neighbouring Greece and Israel.
“Cyprus might be too small to venture into medical tourism on its own, but in cooperation with stakeholders from Israel and Greece, Cyprus could be on the map as a medical tourism destination.”
“Cyprus may not be able to offer top medical services at attractive prices, but there is room for enhancing its services while offering patients the option to recover and regain their strength on a beautiful island that has constant sunshine.”