Ecuador’s skilled medical professionals are seeing a rise in the number of foreign visitors seeking treatment, in a country known for affordable prices and wide health tourism offerings.
As the quality of Ecuador’s hospitals rises, the number of foreign patients coming to the country for medical procedures has steadily increased in parallel. Affordability, convenience, and leisure opportunities have become the mainstays for Ecuador as a medical tourism center, as well as excellent healthcare professionals who have been educated in the US or the UK. With proximity to tourist locations such as the Galápagos and the Amazon region, cities such as Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil have emerged as hubs for patients seeking dental, routine medical, or even cancer treatment. Furthermore, medical care in Ecuador can be significantly cheaper than that provided in better-known medical tourism destinations in Asia and Central America, often by as much as 50%.
Founded in 2010, the Ecuador Medical Tourism Association (EMTA) is spearheading a campaign to attract North Americans to Ecuador, citing affordability as one of the main advantages. According to the association, “it is not uncommon that the final cost of care (including accommodation and travel) will be anywhere from 30%-90% less than the cost of the same procedure in North America.” Some of the most popular treatments include dental work and orthopedic care, as well as a host of other commonly pricey operations. For example, a heart bypass in North America, which typically runs patients upwards of $130,000, costs just $10,000 in Cuenca. Hip or knee replacements, on average about $50,000 in the US, are priced at approximately $8,000 in Ecuador. The EMTA offers consultation, transportation, and lodging support in addition to preparation for patients’ care, as well as service throughout the recovery period.
MedTravel Ecuador, an agency from Quito promoting the phenomenon of medical tourism, lauds the professionalism of the staff of hospitals such as Hospital Metropolitano as one of the country’s strengths in healthcare services. The company offers packages including medical procedures, airline tickets, accommodation, and transfers. Alternatively, patients can choose to purchase treatment alone and discover Ecuador’s medical offering and tourism opportunities independently.
For those suffering from cancer, the Society for the Fight Against Cancer (SOLCA) Institute in Cuenca may also be of some interest. Originally founded in Guayaquil in 1957, the SOLCA treatment center sees more than 30,000 patients per year at its six branches throughout the country and attracts the most talented physicians in the field. In addition, SOLCA offers homeopathic treatments and natural remedies that are not widely available in the US or Europe. Those who see Ecuador as a place for medical care include patients from bordering Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela, as well as Ecuadoreans living abroad who take advantage of affordable medical care in the country when visiting relatives. Many testify that care in Ecuador rivals, or even surpasses, the level of quality of the care provided in North America. The combination of the accessible healthcare system and highly trained medical staff has also sparked an increase in the number of foreign retirees and elderly that choose Ecuador as place to enjoy the golden years of life.
© The Business Year
Discovery & Health: Medical Tourism in Cuenca
23/Noviembre/2012 | 14:54
Discovery & Health: Medical Tourism in Cuenca
Every week this newspaper shows you many reasons for coming to Ecuador, not the least of which are: Galapagos, Andes Mountains, Amazon Jungle, food, adventure, history, culture, even retirement.
But people are also beginning to come to Ecuador, and particularly Cuenca, for new and more important reasons: health and medical treatments.
Cuenca has begun to position itself as a destination for medical tourism. The term medical tourism is still unfamiliar to people in Quito and other regions of Ecuador. But Cuenca’s forward thinking leaders have already designated the city as a regional destination for top-rate, economical medical procedures, which patients often combine with pleasure.
What is Medical Tourism
Medical tourism the act of creating tourism – traveling, staying in hotels, dining out – for reasons associated with your health. The most common practice is to travel to a city or country for a medical procedure, generally because the procedure is less expensive than at home. Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina have been popular destinations for medical procedures, in particular cosmetic surgeries in Latin America. Around the globe other places have also positioned themselves for the medical tourism market, such as Korea, South Africa, and Thailand.
Medical tourism also involves traveling for preventive or “wellness” treatments, such as visiting a spa. Spa treatments may or may not be less expensive than what you could find in your home country or region, but they often have offerings or advantages not found in other places.
Cuenca is one of the few places that can offer both first-class medical facilities with highly trained doctors and the wellness attractions of spas and resorts, making it an ideal health center.
Cuenca was declared a “Health City” by the Pan-American Organization of Health and the Ministry of Public Health for their efforts to provide and promote healthy spaces to live and visit.
Cuenca combines their medical infrastructure with other elements such as cultural offerings, ideal climate, and urban infrastructure to give visitors a well-rounded experience when coming for specific, personal and medical reasons. Cuenca offers no less than five top rate clinics for procedures ranging from cardiology and oncology treatments to orthopedic procedure and bariatric surgeries.
Additionally the town of Baños de Cuenca, just 20 minutes from the city center offers first class, natural geothermal spas and relaxation destinations.
Cuenca recently launched a pilot project to develop strategies and tools for medical tourism as an activity that can stimulate the local economy. Last year the Fundacion Municipal “Turismo Para Cuenca” and five clinics signed an agreement and created a fund especially for the promotion of medical tourism in Ecuador, establishing an initial budget with tour packages for medical visitors.The packages include discounts for hotels, restaurants, and other tour services for medical visitors – a broad network of services within and around the city.
Though Cuenca has the potential to become an international medical tourism destination, the first steps are aimed at the local market, targeting potential tourists and patients from the provinces of El Oro, Loja, and Morona Santiago. To familiarize the public with Cuenca´s medical and health alternatives, press tours and national campaigns are under development.Cuenca seems to be just the start for a future trend that will continue to grow in Ecuador.
For more information about medical tourism in Cuenca contact the Fundacion Municipal “Turismo Para Cuenca” at firstname.lastname@example.org or (07) 284-0383 / 283-2415.