Programmes seek to attract more medical tourists to Kazakhstan

ASTANA – Medical tourists from 45 countries come to Kazakhstan annually, reported Deputy General Director of the National Centre for Health Development Aiman ​​Iskakova.

Ninety percent of them are citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), mainly from Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Uzbekistan while other visitors come from China, Iran and Turkey. Overall, 1,604 foreign patients were registered in the first 10 months of 2018.

“We have highly-qualified specialists. We have advanced medical equipment and favourable geographical location. Most importantly, our medical services are provided at lower prices. International experts conducted an analysis of seven surgical services. It shows that prices in our country are lower than in India, which is recognised as the world leader in terms of costs for medical services,” said Iskakova.

Kazakhstan takes the 25th place in terms of the number of organisations accredited at the Joint Commission International (JCI) ranking. JCI provides leadership in international healthcare accreditation and quality improvement. Currently, seven local organisations have a JCI accreditation. Also, about 500 medical organisations have national accreditation certificates, recognised by International Society for Quality in Healthcare since 2012.

Tourists most often seek care related to cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, reproductive medicine, dental services, transplantology, orthopaedics and health procedures.

“We offer not only high-quality services. We have many unique facilities for recreation, tourism and sports. More than 140 organisations offer health services based on the integrated use of unique natural sources. This sector of medical tourism includes climate therapy, hydrotherapy, mud therapy and pantotherapy,” she said.

The development of medical tourism and other programmes seeks to increase the capacity of healthcare organisations and services to attract foreign patients. The centre expects the project to attract about 32,000 foreign tourists and bring more than 1 billion tenge (US$2.6 million) from inbound medical tourism.

The centre studied the experience in medical tourism development in five countries including India, Turkey, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. The development strategy will adopt the best practices in methodology of statistical accounting, internet marketing, insurance and other aspects.

The centre will cooperate with tour operators, national and international associations to identify and overcome barriers in medical tourism. To date, 16 memorandums have been signed with domestic and foreign travel companies.

The medicaltourism.kz website provides information about medical services in the country. It offers information about medical organisations, their equipment, services offered and prices, as well as specialists and their qualifications. A call centre is also planned.

“The National Centre for Health Development joined the Global Healthcare Travel Council (GHTC) last year. Its members are representatives of national health councils, associations and national organisations that regulate the tourism industry and support the medical tourism. GHTC provides guidance for the global medical tourism market, sets norms, standards and ethics, provides recommendations on adjustments to the international legal framework for medical tourism and supports the countries in monitoring and evaluating new trends in medical tourism,” Iskakova explained.