Jordan: Health Vacation Jewel of the Middle East

Jordan’s Health Vacation Plans

The Kingdom of Jordan has plans to become the health vacation destination of the Middle East in four years. The marketing campaign for Jordan’s medical tourism packages aims at raising funds through private sponsors or government contributions. Jordan’s Health Ministry set up a medical tourism plan in 2004 to generate $1 billion annual income by 2010 with the help of public and private sectors. The Private Hospital Association has welcomed the move but wants the government to do more. Jordan’s health sector has earned around $1800 million in the past three years from foreign patients alone. In 1999, the government opened an office at the Queen Alia International airport to help foreign patients upon arrival to the Kingdom. This office helps health vacation tourists by offering free services like faster processing of immigration procedures, handing out information brochures on all hospitals and tourist sites, and making available direct transportation to their hospital of choice.

Overcoming the Hurdles

Jordan is in the third phase of moving the health vacation industry forward. The country has been addressing issues such as legislation of malpractice suits and acquiring international accreditation for some hospitals. But poor marketing of Jordan’s medical tourism packages is the largest hurdle to reaching the 2010 goal. This is due to several reasons like lack of a focused marketing campaign in foreign countries to project Jordan as an international travel destination for a health vacation and inadequate travel advertisements promoting Jordan’s medical tourism packages overseas. The government’s main concern is that the majority of foreign patients are not notified of the free airport service before arriving. It can be quite embarrassing when patients, who are unaware of this, think that the officers favor particular hospitals and give information based on commission incentives, which is not true at all. But the government defends the free airport service initiative saying that it has greatly reduced the hassles that foreign patients had to face earlier. The health tourism board is happy with its success and has drawn up plans to set up stations at various border areas.

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Health Care Services For the Elderly in the Middle East

In the next five years, the Jordanian health ministry predicts double growth in health care services for the elderly in the Middle East. There are 56 private hospitals in Jordan willing to extend health vacation services and help the country become a preferred destination for health care services for the elderly in the Middle East. Most of them are running at near-full capacity and are expanding due to the influx of foreign patients. The medical care costs are about 10% of those in the US. But the majority of foreign patients still come only from countries in the region like Sudan, Iraq, Libya, and the Gulf States. Most of these patients arrive in Jordan for heart and neurological surgeries, kidney replacements, orthopedic and orthodontic operations, and medical follow-ups. Elderly patients undergo surgeries successfully in Jordan and spread the word in their home countries, thereby recommending Jordan’s medical tourism packages to their friends. Medical tourism has now become a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide and Jordan is facing stiff competition from countries in the region like Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and the Gulf countries that are also investing huge sums of money to become medical hotspots of the Middle East.

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