Jamaica Plans Health Tourism Expansion

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By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaica’s government is planning to expand its health tourism offerings, according to Industry Minister Anthony Hylton.

Improving the niche tourism market could help improve Jamaica’s health care and create jobs, he said.

“The poor will actually benefit from what would be centres of excellence created here in Jamaica to do things and to provide serves, some of which are not now locally available,” he said. “We’ll bring those services here and they’ll be accessible to the wider public.”

Key to expanding the sector is a a partnership between the public and private sectors, he said.

“In most instances, the doctors are asking the government to partner with them, and there are a number of good reasons why that is so,” he said. “Part of it is providing land as part of the investment, and I think the government is keen to do that, because through that kind of exchange, the government can leverage certain requirements as it relates to the wider population.”

Any expansion of the sector should be modeled on the successful drives undertaken in countries like Singapore and India, According to Dr Neville Graham, medical director of EMedical Global Jamaica Limited.

“It has been proven in Singapore that with the advent of health tourism, they are now eighth in the world in terms of providing health care for their own population,” he said. “In India, five percent of [the patients] that health tourism facilities treat are local people.”

In an interview with Caribbean Journal earlier this year, Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill said health tourism was at the forefront of the country’s tourism priorities.

“We feel that Jamaica is ideally suited and ideally placed, based on its location, to really get into health tourism in a big way,” he told CJ at the time.