As you know, medical tourism is booming around the world, with around 20 to 24 million people traveling for medical treatment annually. Factors such as an increased need for long-term care, rising healthcare costs and constant pressure on some insurance sectors are reasons why some choose to travel abroad.

In terms of price competitiveness, Iran is currently number one in the world, but the country has not been very successful in attracting potential travelers than other competitors such as Singapore and Turkey. People from the coastal states of the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Syria as well as Iranian expatriates residing in Canada and Germany made up the majority of medical travelers to the Islamic Republic who received plastic, cosmetic, frank and orthopedic surgeries, among other things, in the past few years.

A recent study co-authored by Iranian researchers Khalil Momeni, Ali Jannati, Rahim Khodayari-Zarnaq, Shabnam Ghasemyani, and Mohamadreza Havasian suggests that the main difference between Iran and other countries they selected for the study is in the organizational structure of the Major players in lies the tourism industry; In other countries, this sector is organized and monitored by specific coordinating bodies.

The data was collected from 2000 to 2020 from databases such as PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Magiran, SID and websites of the World Tourism Association, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health of the selected countries. The study was published on Melbourne-based Healthscope, which operates private hospitals, medical centers and international pathology services.

Six countries were specifically selected, including Singapore, Turkey, Costa Rica, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. They were compared for the status of tourism and the competitiveness of travel, the status of governance and policy making, the status of the medical tourism industry and medical tourism infrastructure.

In terms of tourism and travel competitiveness, Singapore outperformed other countries with a global ranking of 17. Based on the status of the medical tourism industry, Costa Rica ranked 7th in the world and Singapore, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Turkey, United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi), Jordan and Iran ranked 15th, 22nd, 27th ., 31., 35. and 41. In Iran, all indicators of medical tourism infrastructure were lower than in other countries, with the exception of competitive prices.

The comparison tables included components such as general profile, tourism and travel competitiveness, governance and politics, medical tourism industry status, and medical tourism infrastructure in selected countries. The framework analysis based on the identified components was used to analyze the data.

In addition, the study confirmed that despite the legal framework for the development of medical tourism in Iran, this industry is currently facing several challenges. “These challenges are the lack of a specific structure of medical tourism at international, national and regional level, the lack of a medical tourism system, the definition and formulation of laws, guidelines and plans, the lack of an infrastructure and the lack of a monitoring system. ”

All indicators of tourism and travel competitiveness are low in Iran, with the exception of pricing, which is rated as the first cheapest country in the world. The growing medical tourism industry requires the optimal provision of all tourism infrastructures and not just the promotion of various indicators, according to the study.

The United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Jordan are the top three medical tourism destinations in Western Asia, according to the Medical Tourism Organization report.

Although Iran has good conditions in terms of a competitive price, the presence of qualified doctors and a short waiting time in the countries examined, other infrastructures for medical tourism are not sufficiently invested. For example, Iran couldn’t even get a JCI license for a hospital until 2017, and the average per capita index for doctors / nurses is much lower than the global one. In order to promote medical tourism, it is necessary to recognize the strategic status of medical tourism in each province of the country, provide specialized labor, provide high quality services, improve infrastructure and promote a positive attitude from the authorities in support of the medical tourism industry.

The study also found that factors that can play a positive role in the development of medical tourism in Iran, advanced infertility treatment services, cosmetic and dental surgery, organ transplant and cell therapy, cultural similarity and familiarity with neighboring countries, and competitive prices are . Actions such as improving human resource communication skills and developing private hospitals according to international standards can also be effective in developing medical tourism.

The main difference between the selected countries and Iran lies in the organizational structure of the main players in the tourism industry. The study showed that one of the challenges facing the growing medical tourism in Iran is the existence of diverse political and decision-making bodies, as well as cultural and political conditions. In all other countries, this sector is organized and monitored by specific coordinating bodies.

The revision of coordination strategies and strategies between different ministries, other government agencies and the private sector could help to facilitate cross-sectoral coordination in this area. One of the most important factors for the development of the medical tourism industry is the focus on attracting tourists from neighboring countries. In general, certain populations are more likely to be attracted to certain locations. This could be due to a similar ethnic and cultural background.

“In order to improve Iran’s competitiveness with countries in the region such as Turkey and to attract medical tourists, long-term plans should be developed to strengthen infrastructure and cultural reforms, increase private sector participation, and plan for efficient use of mass media.” local press to raise awareness. This will require national efforts and a redefinition of the role of health tourism in the economy and a strong trustee to follow up on those measures, ”the study suggests.

According to the authors, the strengths of the present study are the completeness of the selected countries and the obtaining of systematic information according to the corresponding strategy search. One of the limitations of the study is that in many respects the existing indicators are not updated and some of the documents are in languages ​​other than English and Persian.

The Islamic Republic has set itself the goal of surpassing its annual medical travelers to around two million [calendar year] 1404 (March 2025 – March 2026). Iran’s trump cards include the presence of credible surgeons and doctors, cutting-edge medical technologies, high-tech medicine and various specializations, affordable procedures and, finally, the hospitable people.