Gov’t Targets Viable Health Tourism Industry


Minister of Health and Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has said that the development of a viable health tourism industry is an integral part of the government’s vision for the country’s health care system.
“Jamaica has an unrivalled opportunity to develop a thriving health tourism and wellness industry. Our location to the North American market, language, climate, and the outlay of our health infrastructure, are among our distinct advantages,” said Mr. Spencer, during his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate at Gordon House on Tuesday, June 3.
He said that Jamaica must position itself to penetrate the market of the 20 per cent or 8 million of the estimated 40 million uninsured Americans that are likely to seek health care overseas.
The Health Minister noted that the countries that have taken advantage of the medical outsourcing and health tourism opportunities share similar characteristics in that, the governments have recognized the enormous economic advantage of the initiative and have deliberately pursued health tourism as a high priority policy.
“These countries have put in place well-defined incentive packages to encourage private sector healthcare development, recognizing that indigenous development of healthcare elevates the level of care for the local population while at the same time, generating new revenue source for the economy,” he explained.
He noted also that in those countries, generous incentive packages are offered to health care investors including tax holidays, land donations, duty and import tax waivers/concessions, and so on, and that “enterprise free zones” are introduced to encourage the establishment of specific health care delivery service niche markets for the country.
“We intend to look at models in other countries including incentive packages, labour movement, healthcare financing, training and education, and we would make appropriate recommendations to our partner Ministries ..as we believe that this opportunity must not be lost by Jamaica,” Mr. Spencer stated.
“We see health tourism as not only a major revenue source for Jamaica, but also a catalyst for the infrastructural and technical improvement of the healthcare quality and standards in Jamaica in all areas of healthcare services including wellness, spa services, cosmetic, preventive and therapeutic care,” the Health Minister added.

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