Executive Director of the Washington, D.C., Board of Medicine, Dr. Jacqueline Watson, says Jamaica can establish and operate a thriving health tourism industry, mainly in the area of health care.
Making a presentation on June 17, at a forum exploring the diversity of Jamaica’s tourism product, at the 5th Biennial Diaspora Conference, being held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Dr. Watson pointed out that the services generally sought by Americans for health care include orthopaedic surgeries, hip replacement, and dental surgery.
“Health and wellness integrated care, that is where Jamaica has a distinct advantage, and we have to start the medical tourism development from a health perspective,” she told her audience.
She urged the country to prepare for the new US health care plan slated to come on stream during 2015, as Jamaica could attract many persons who will then have health insurance.
“People travel, and the main reason they are travelling is for health reasons, and they choose an attractive destination. Depending on the services you are offering, it can certainly be a boom to the economy,” Dr. Watson said.
Explaining the concept of health tourism, she described it as the movement of people from a “highly developed area of the world for medical health care, usually to find treatment at a lower cost.”
Dr. Watson pointed out that over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry, adding that Jamaica would be an ideal destination, given the fact that medical training in Jamaica is in keeping with standards in the US and the United Kingdom.
For his part, Vice President at JAMPRO, Claude Duncan, told the forum that many persons from abroad, including the Caribbean are currently utilizing health facilities in Jamaica.
He said that insurance companies in those countries encourage persons to travel overseas for medical procedures, as it is less costly to them, while increasing earnings for the host country.
Meanwhile, noted Jamaican Scientist, Professor Henry Lowe, said the investment opportunities in health are enormous, and persons should seize them.
Contact: Garfield L. Angus