Iran’s Health Ministry says the country is a well-known medical tourism destination in the Middle East, but its great potentials have yet to be exploited.
According to a report by IFP, Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi, the Iranian Minister of Health and Medical Education, highlighted the great potentials of health tourism in Iran, but noted that this field is faced with some problems.
“There is no balance between the knowledge and skills of our medical professionals and their income from medical tourism. We have not been so successful in giving information and presenting our capacities, which require powerful agencies, well-equipped hotels and means of transportation,” Qazizadeh Hashemi said in a Farsi interview with Al Alam News Network.
“We have excellent doctors, well-equipped centres and advanced medical devices in Iran. This is a unique opportunity for us. We need the help of other governmental organisations such as Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization, as well as the Foreign Ministry, to see the health tourism flourish more in the future,” he added.
“Other countries can be cooperative, too, by opening offices to send out patients to Iran. We have identified and ranked the hospitals that are capable of offering high quality services to foreign patients. I ask these countries to send patients only through legal ways; tourists may fall into the trap of fraudsters otherwise.”
“People in Middle Eastern countries have been familiar with Iranian medicine and medical capacities for a long time, and have trust in it. The problem is that we don’t have enough transportation, caring, housing and entertainment facilities; we didn’t progress well in these areas. I hope this problem would be resolved,” Qazizadeh Hashemi noted, while highlighting the high skills of Iranian doctors and the very reasonable price of medical services in Iran.
“We have 57 universities of medical sciences, with 200,000 students in different medical fields, among them are some foreigners. Iran’s science production is in the first rank in the region and 16th in the world. The Ministry of Health and Medical Education and medical groups are responsible for one third of Iran’s science production, with more than 350 knowledge-based firms. Plus, there are 600 medical research centres in Iran.”
95% of Pharmaceuticals Needed in Iran Are Produced inside the Country
“Fortunately, 95% of the pharmaceuticals we need are produced inside Iran; Iranian specialists are able to do a variety of diagnostic and surgical procedures. For more than 20 years, Iranian patients have not felt the need to leave the country for their treatment, and due to the reasonable price of medical services in Iran, we receive patients from other countries as well,” he said.
“In recent decades, Iran made very good progress in heart, kidney, stomach, pancreas, intestine and liver transplant.”
“Medical science is renewed every five years at least, or every three years according to some experts. In all our education and research centers, we practice the world’s newest scientific and medical methods; Iran has some international and regional competitors in this field. Turkish research centers are our regional rivals,” he noted.
“Iran has also made good progress in cell therapy-related fields such as stem cells. We began the bone marrow transplant for blood cancer patients more than 28 years ago,” the Iranian minister said.
“We have been using stem cells in ophthalmology for more than 15 years. We use it as an experimental method for patients with heart disease and spinal cord injuries, and sometimes it proved to be effective.”
“Fortunately, regional Health Ministries cooperate with us very well. We relate with them in different conferences and communities. Iran can provide them with further help in the field of healthcare,” he went on to say.
“Because of our interests, we should help regional countries and benefit from each other’s capacities. Muslims have to trust each other and solve their problems together, as we can’t expect strangers to help us.”
In sharing its medical experiences with other countries, Iran gives priority to Muslim states, health minister says.
“We are proud to share our experience with any country in the world, no matter what culture and belief it has. We give priority to our Muslim sisters and brothers, though, as I think they can profit from Iranian experience in some areas where Iran is pre-eminent,” Qazizadeh Hashemi said.
“During my recent visit to China, I visited a hospital that was proud of doing 100 liver transplants per year. I told them that we do more than 600 liver transplants per year just in one hospital in Shiraz, and that we have 28 surgeons in Iran who are active only in liver transplant.”
“All we did, and will do, in countries gripped by crisis is at their governments’ request. We never neglected to offer our medical services in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon or any other country. We helped them as much as possible,” he noted about Iran’s medical services in conflicted regional countries.
Iran Exporting Its Pharmaceuticals to Russia and South Africa
“Iranian-made drugs are so high quality that we export them to countries such as Russia and South Africa. Hopefully, we are able to cooperate with other major firms of the world in this field,” he added.
“After the nuclear deal, we have had valuable opportunities. Many potential partners all over the world are willing to invest in Iran. They have their eyes on Iranian knowledgeable, motivated, experienced young workforce,” he noted.
“We have set a 10-year goal to develop the export of Iranian pharmaceuticals. The more we participate in global markets, the higher will become the quality of our products. It is natural, as there is a difficult competition.”