By Lindenberg Junior | Translation: Edgar Lim
The medical tourism segment is relatively new in Brazil and, three years ago, it was not even considered as a kind of tourism. Nowadays, however, in despite of not having official data, this phenomenon that we could call as “Medical Tourism” assuredly attracts a significant public and generates several millions of dollars.
The fact is that medical offices, clinics and Brazilian hospitals already have experienced this phenomenon in addition to the proven increase of foreigners who come to Brazil to receive medical and dental treatments. We also could affirm that, while ten years ago, it was frequent to see Brazilians looking to get heart and cancer abroad, this outflow has reverted.
We may say that the World was divided into two poles in relation to medical tourism. There are countries that export medical tourists and countries that import them. Brazil is already part of the importing country group accompanied by India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, who are at forefront of this market.
According to the 2003 data from the Tourism Ministry, the alien who comes to Brazil for medical reasons is the one who stays longer in the country (averaging 22 days) and spends the most ($120/day). In that year, this group represented 0.5% of the incoming foreigners to Brazil. In 2005, this percentage already reached 0.9% (approximately 48.6 thousand people).
The “Sao Paulo Turismo”, official organization of tourism and events of the city, was one of the first to detect this growth and importance of this sector. In the September of 2007, it launched a medical tourism guide, welfare and quality of life with information about main hospitals, clinics and laboratories of the city. On the medical field, the city of Sao Paulo is outstanding, besides owning the biggest and best health infra-structure of Brazil; it has a centralized and the most flight connections in the country, in addition to good entertainment choices to patients and family.
Medical tourism has exponentially grown all over the world and in 2006, 500 thousand Americans went abroad to receive medical care. In countries like the US, where there are about 50 million people without medical insurance, the biggest contributor to this exodus is the high cost of medical coverage. In other countries with socialized medicine, like Canada and England, the main reason is long lines to several complex medical treatments. The last third group does not have advanced medicine and exports patients who wish, and can, bankroll the most advanced procedures in existence.
Care quality, doctor’s reputation and warm doctor-patient relationship are some of the motives that make many patients choose cross frontiers and oceans to be cared for in Brazil. In extension to it, of course, is the possibility of seeing wonderful natural landscapes and enjoy the best shopping facilities and gourmet menus from several state capitals. Many foreigners come to Brazil just to care for their health. While others take advantage of the business and tour trips, or even visits to relatives and friends, to make medical appointments and simple procedures, even most complex surgeries. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are still destination preferred choices, but other State capitals like Salvador, Recife and Curitiba already began to appear on the medical menu.
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