foreign patients

PHA Blames Government Visa Rules for Plunging Medical Tourism Numbers

The number of foreign patients visiting Jordan for treatment slumped by 40 percent over 2016 and 2017 due to stricter visa rules imposed by the government, the head of the Private Hospitals Association told The Jordan Times.

“In 2015, the Kingdom received 250,000 foreign patients. However, the government has restricted the number of nationalities and required certain nationalities to obtain a visa prior to arrival in the Kingdom,” Fawzi Hammouri, Head of the Private Hospitals Association, said.

The new procedures applied to citizens of countries that have experienced serious political instability over recent years including Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Sudan and a number of other African countries, Hammouri said.

The medical tourism sector contributes to the GDP by 3.5 percent or $1 billion, Hammouri said, adding that only 35 percent of the money patients expend goes to the medical care providers, while 65 percent is spent on services and products provided by other economic sectors such as transport, hospitality, and retail.

The majority of patients come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, in addition to several other nationalities, according to Hammouri. Jordan has 67 private hospitals, which account for 65 percent of the total number of hospitals in the Kingdom, association figures indicate. The most demanded specialties by foreign patients are cardiology, fertility, orthopedics, and cosmetic surgery.