Sfax plays host to meeting on export of health services and medical tourism | Tunisia News Gazette

Sfax plays host to meeting on export of health services and medical tourism

A meeting on the export of health services in Tunisia and medical tourism entitled “Exporting health services: opportunities and levers of performance “was held Saturday in Sfax.

The meeting, held on the initiative of the IHEC ALUMNI Association, was attended by a number of professional bodies and administrative and scientific structures, such as the Faculty of Medicine of Sfax, the Chamber of Trade unions of private clinics, the National Accreditation Authority and the regional heath directorate.

“The conference aims to define the directions and strategies to boost medical tourism that has emerged in Tunisia since the last decade,” said Karim Ammous, IHEC ALUMNI regional president in Sfax.

He said the number of foreign patients who come to seek treatment in Tunisia amounted to more than 450 thousand in 2013 against approximately 150 thousand in 2007.

Nearly 70% of foreign patients come from the Maghreb, mainly from Libya and Algeria and about 12% of Europe, he added.

“Thanks to the 40,000 employees working in more than a hundred private clinics, health tourism in Tunisia will have a bright future,” said IHEC ALUMNI regional president in Sfax.

According to the report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the year 2016, Tunisia is currently in second position in Africa in the export of health services and in tenth position in the world, he recalled.

Director-General of the Health Investment and Export Promotion Unit of the Ministry of Public Health, Nadia Fenina, announced the forthcoming launch of a feasibility study for the creation of a Health Services Export Investment Promotion Agency, similar to the Industry Promotion Agency (API) and the Export Promotion Centre (CEPEX).

A study on the development of communication tools for the export strategy of health-related services will also be launched, she added.

This project will be financed by a grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB), she said.

Assessing the current state of the health sector in Tunisia, Nadia Fenina pointed out that health tourism in Tunisia offers various opportunities which, she said, “are not limited to medical care but also to medical training and the pharmaceutical industry “.

“Tunisia is ranked second in the world after France in terms of thalassotherapy,” she pointed out.

With 1,790 doctors, including 1,113 specialists, Sfax is a real health centre and has a good chance of succeeding in the export sector of health services, she said, noting that two out of three doctors in Sfax work in the private sector.

In this regard, she recommended increasing direct flights to health-seeking countries, such as African countries and developing a marketing strategy for this purpose.

There is also need to facilitate the visa process and improve reception, transfer and accommodation services for foreign patients, she added.

On the sidelines of this meeting, Emir Daoud, manager of a newly created medical tourism agency in Sfax, considered it essential to better organize the sector, saying it suffers from a flagrant lack of marketing and an adequate and encouraging legal framework.

“In the absence of a clear legal framework, I have encountered several problems during the process of launching my medical tourism agency,” he lamented.

In this regard, Emir Daoud called for the creation of a consortium bringing together all clinics and health professionals to ensure a better structuring of the sector.

The owner of this medical tourism agency added: “we must bet on the African continent to boost health tourism in Sfax. We can attract large numbers of Africans who usually go to Europe for treatment.”

Source: TAP News Agency

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