Iran’s Ministry of Health has so far granted licenses to 22 medical tourism companies with the aim of organizing authorized facilitators for the booming business.
“So far, 22 medical tourism companies have been licensed by the Ministry of Health, while 180 others are in the process of obtaining licenses,” Saeid Hashemzadeh the head of the ministry’s medical tourism department, said on Saturday.
One of the major drawbacks of health tourism in Iran was that those who are active in this field were often unidentified and they were needed to be organized so as to complete the health tourism services chain, the official noted.
The biggest problem was the lack of specialized medical tourism facilitation companies to advertise and promote the country’s medical capabilities abroad and offer classified services to foreign patients. This vacuum was preparing the ground for unauthorized dealers to do so overseas, Hashemzadeh explained.
“Services, provided by anonymous and unidentified brokers, have caused many problems, even some foreign patients were referred to medical centers, which were not confirmed by the Ministry of Health.”
The official added that a problem, which is still in place in some cases and could destroy Iran’s medical credibility worldwide, is the number of foreign patients who are willing to pursue their treatments in Iran may gradually decrease over time.
In July, Hashemzadeh had announced that Iranian hospitals admitted 70,000 foreign patients over the last Iranian calendar year (March 2018 – March 2019), adding some 90% of foreign patients in Iran are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and other countries around the Persian Gulf.
The Islamic republic hosted a record high of nearly 600,000 medical travelers during the first four months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-July 21), nearly equal to the figure for the whole past year, according to an Iranian association for the health tourism promotion.
Many domestic experts say that medical tourism in Iran produces win-win outcomes as the country yields considerable benefits to international health-care seekers, offering affordable yet quality treatment services.
The country has set its goals to exceed its yearly medical travelers to around 2 million in March 2025-March 2026.