Puerto Rico wants to be ‘medical tourism powerhouse’
The Government of Puerto Rico took an important step Tuesday in its efforts to become a medical tourism powerhouse in the Caribbean and Latin America when the Department of Economic Development and Commerce signed an agreement with the Medical Tourism Association to have the MTA provide educational training aimed at obtaining certifications for service providers in Puerto Rico.
The agreement was signed during the World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress held Sept. 20-24 in Washington DC.
“Our focus is to certify a select group of providers — among them healthcare participants such as hospitals and laboratories as well as those participating in other aspects of services tied to medical tourism — to turn medical tourism into a motor for our economic development, the exportation of services and job creation,” said Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Alberto Bacó during the event.
“We are a world-class tourist destination and we are committed to presenting an equally attractive offer for medical tourism that will benefit the Caribbean, the U.S. and Latin America,” he said.
Puerto Rico has a series of advantages that position it as an ideal destination for medical tourism, he said. Among them, the island allegedly boasts the most advanced formal structure of integrated healthcare services in the Caribbean and Latin America, applies the same standards and regulations that in the United States, and a great number of medical professionals who graduated from stateside universities and have been accredited by their corresponding medical boards.
“We offer a real alternative in this market with a unique offer to guarantee a first-rate experience patients and their families who visit us a first rate experience with competitive prices that are 40 percent to 60 percent lower than what is offered in the continental United States,” said Bacó.
Meanwhile, Renee Marie Stephano, president of the MTA, said the newly minted agreement evidences the expertise and breadth of the organization she represents.
“We are honored that the government of Puerto Rico has selected the Medical Tourism Association as a strategic partner to develop Puerto Rico’s great potential as a medical tourism destination,” said Stephano.
“With the dedication toward service development in all service sectors, Puerto Rico has all the characteristics needed to become a successful player in in this field in the very near future,” she added.
A delegation of more than 20 representatives from Puerto Rico’s government, healthcare and tourism sectors participated in meetings with their peers at the international level during the Congress.
The delegation included Tourism Company Executive Director Ingrid Rivera, Francisco Chévere, executive director of the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company, and Francisco Bonet, director of the recently created Puerto Rico Medical Tourism Corporation, which is part of the DDEC and is responsible for developing the necessary infrastructure to turn the island into an important player in medical tourism.