By Antonio Vázquez
The Jalisco medical tourism cluster is one of the leading centers in the country for attention to foreigners; it offers a wide range of specialties ranging from cosmetic surgery and care for chronic degenerative diseases to cancer and fertility treatments.
Tourism and health: what better combination?
The medical tourism industry in Mexico offers a wide range of health services, and Jalisco is home to one of the most important medical clusters in the country.
In 2009, a number of private institutions in the state of Jalisco conceived the idea of forming a cluster to offer quality services in the healthcare market. Initially, the group focused primarily on cosmetic surgery services but over time the catalog was expanded.
“There is a great demand as the global population begins to age. We are seeing an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes and those affecting the heart, the joints, the hips, and so on,” explains Carlos Rodríguez Zárate, president of the Jalisco Medical Tourism Cluster.
Rodríguez Zárate explains that the leading consumer of health services, the US, represents a great opportunity for clusters focused on medicine in Mexico. The costs of coverage of different health systems in the US are high and the health reforms in that country have set restrictions on coverage.
“That creates an important market for us. Another factor is the migration policy of the Obama administration, which is aimed at reaching millions of migrants; many Mexicans are waiting to become citizens of the US in order to come to Mexico and be treated in the health services here,” he adds.
The quality of medical services in Mexico and the warmth with which Mexican doctors treat their patients are added values that attract medical tourism from the US. Jalisco, in western Mexico, is a state with approximately 10 million inhabitants. Its capital, Guadalajara, is the second largest metropolitan area in the country, with just over 6 million residents, and an international airport with flights to 21 cities in the US.
With mountain ranges and the sea, the state has wonderful tourism sites. Puerto Vallarta, on the coast of Jalisco, is one the most preferred beaches by American tourists. According to figures from the federal Ministry of Tourism, in the first half of 2014, about 600,000 tourists visited the destination, representing an increase of almost 20% compared to the same period in 2013.
The Jalisco Medical Tourism Cluster is composed of 10 hospitals in Guadalajara that are renowned throughout the country and four hospitals in Puerto Vallarta.
“Jalisco has extensive experience in treating emergency patients, people who are traveling on business, or people living in US and Canadian dominated neighborhoods on the shores of Lake Chapala,” Carlos Rodríguez Zárate points out.
Medical tourism in Mexico is a market that brings major economic benefits to the country. Mexican exports of health services in 2012 exceeded 3 billion USD, according to figures from Euromonitor. Patients Beyond Borders estimates that every year over one million people travel to Mexico for health care.
The Jalisco Medical Tourism Cluster offers an extensive portfolio of specialties. The cluster partner hospitals as offering cosmetic surgery, dental care, ophthalmology, obesity treatment, orthopedics, hip implants, oncology, cardiology and neurosurgery, as well as fertility and stem cell treatments, among other services.
In March 2014, representatives of the most important medical clusters in Mexico met to map out a strategy that will project the sector onto the international stage. The main outline of the strategy, defined in conjunction with the federal Ministry of Health, is to work in a coordinated manner to provide quality service for foreign patients.
“In Mexico and Jalisco there is a high level of quality among health professionals. Many of our doctors have qualifications and training from countries like the US, Canada, and some European countries. The network of hospitals, hospital infrastructure and services such as laboratories and radiology units fully comply with international standards,” states Rodríguez Zárate, who adds that, in the coming years, the Jalisco Medical Tourism Cluster will seek to position Mexico as one of the main destinations for health tourism in the world.
“We are focused on international tourism and on developing a comprehensive approach as a country and as a State. Jalisco has been developing for several years as a major center for medical attention care in the country,” concludes the president of the Jalisco Medical Tourism Cluster.
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