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Stakeholders upbeat over forming national panel for medical tourism

By Ahmed Bani Mustafa - Feb 24,2018 - Last updated at Feb 24,2018

AMMAN — Forming a national committee to draft a strategy for health tourism will contribute to improve the situation of the sector and address the challenges it faces, stakeholders said.

On Saturday, Health Minister Mahmoud Sheyyab decided to form the committee that comprises representatives of all relevant bodies to create a strategy for the sector, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.    

The Private Hospitals Associations (PHA) President Fawzi Hammouri said that the association has been “the only body” handling all processes related to the sector including promotion and organisation with no support from other parties.

“We have called for a national collective effort to enhance Jordan’s competitiveness, promotion and marketing”, Hammouri told The Jordan Times on Saturday.

The government, represented by the Health Ministry, has responded to the demand and formed the panel, he added, expressing satisfaction with its line-up as it “represents all stakeholders”.

“There is a fierce competition in the region and some countries are working on attracting patients such as Turkey, India, the UAE, Tunisia and Lebanon, the sector leader noted.  

The committee, headed by the Higher Health Council President Mohammad Tarawneh, comprises Hammouri and representatives from the Tourism Ministry, Jordan Tourism Board, the army-affiliated Royal Medical Services, Jordan Hotel Association (JHA), Jordan Restaurants Association (JRA), Jordan Dental Association, Jordanian Pharmacists Association and Jordan Nurses and Midwives Association.

Hammouri praised the recent government’s approval of PHA’s recommendations on redistricted nationalities. 

The decision will contribute to increase the number of guests receiving treatment at Jordanian hospitals, adding that patients and their chaperons of restricted nationalities from Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Chad and Ethiopia will be able to obtain entry visas to the Kingdom through the Jordanian embassies in those countries within 48 hours of submitting the visa application, according to Hammouri.

Health Ministry’s spokesperson, Hatim Azrui, told Petra that the Cabinet’s decision to ease restrictions on certain nationalities included exempting patients who are above 50 or below 15 from obtaining pre-arrival visas.  

JRA General Manager Eliana Janineh also commended the measure, stressing that it would institutionalise efforts to increase the numbers of patients and their companions.

The strategy has to be built on the dimensions of National Strategy of Tourism including the improvement of products, promotion and the provision of trained qualifying human resources, she added.

JHA General Manager Reda Hashem praised the measure, stressing that the strategy will contribute to increase the number of patients and their chaperons, who would increase the hotels’ occupancy rates.

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