Health tourism in Colombia increases by 67.6%

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Oswaldo Viteri traveled from Quito in order to undergo different treatments for lung cancer. Like Oswaldo, 9,792 other people traveled to Colombia in 2014 in order to obtain medical care, an increase of 67.6% over the previous year, when there were 5,842 such cases, according to data from the Tourist Information Center (CITUR). 


Furthermore, each of those travelers who underwent a medical procedure didn´t just invest in the health sector. According to the Productive Transformation Program (PTP) of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, “for every dollar that a health tourist pays in a hospital, he or she spends five dollars on hotels, transportation, purchases … so it’s a very profitable activity that benefits different productive chains at the same time.” 


Besides being a patient in Colombia, Oswaldo is a dermatologist in his country, which is why he received advice from various colleagues about where to seek treatment for his illness. Despite the common thinking that associates this tourism only with cosmetic surgery, the sector is comprised of three other categories: curative, preventive and wellness medicine. 


Worldwide, this sector represents more than 24.3 billion dollars, with a flow of 23.3 million tourists in search of procedures in the different categories.


In the ranking by the World Health Organization (WHO), Colombia occupies first place in Latin America, and 22nd place globally, in the overall performance of its health systems. 


“This is a seal of approval for which more foreigners every day are choosing national institutions for surgical procedures,” states the PTP, which expects the sector in Colombia to grow at an annual rate of 20% in the coming years, thereby becoming more actively integrated in the global dynamic.


Meanwhile, the medical centers are improving their infrastructure and personnel. Some have been certified internationally by the Joint Commission International, an accreditation that is recognized because it identifies and measures best practices related to quality and patient safety on a global level. Oswaldo came for tests and treatments at Fundación Santa Fe, one of the three institutions recognized by this means. The other two are Fundación Cardiovascular de Colombia (in Santander) and Fundación Cardioinfantil. 


Today, the sector in Colombia is focused on curative and cosmetic medicine, but, based on the goals of the PTP, it is expected that the country will be able to attract at least 2.8 million health tourists by 2032.


By: Publimetro Colombia