Foreigners leave Serbia impressed by its good food and beautiful nature, but there are those who return home happy with a new appearance. Health tourism has been developing in our country for the last few years, but dentists and specialists in reconstructive surgery are already overbooked.
Apart from professional staff, another reason why foreigners come for health treatments here is definitely the prices that are two to three times lower than in their respective countries. The Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Tourism, recognized this potential and began to award certificates for medical tourism to dental offices and plastic surgery clinics.
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The first certificates were awarded in June this year to private health institutions which fulfilled the conditions for participation in the Health Tourism Development and Promotion Project in Serbia. The call for participation in this project, launched by the Ministry of Health, was launched last year and is continuously open. 130 health institutions have applied so far, 60 of which were given certificates.
State Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Meho Mahmutovic said for eKapija that these certificates given by the state were a sort of recommendation to foreign patients that they will get services that are not only of good quality and efficient, but also much more affordable, which is an important first step for development of this type of tourism.
– We have modest expectations for the first year. The forecasts are that we will accommodate 100,000 tourists and earn 200 million euros. We already went to the Moscow and Berlin fair in order to promote potentials of health tourism – Mahmutovic adds.
Our advantage compared to other countries is the fact that “the state guarantees for quality service” – Mahmutovic explains.
The state secretary announced that all clinics that received certificate will be presented on the Ministry’s website from autumn.
9 plastic surgery clinics from Belgrade received certificate
The first healthcare institutions that received the certificate have already been inspected by the Ministry of Health and registered in the Business Registers Agency or the Commercial Court.
There were several specific conditions that they had to fulfill.
The criteria were that the certified health institutions had to have at least one doctor of medicine – a specialist with at least five years of work experience, with a license of the competent chamber, a dental doctor with at least five years of work experience and a license, a post-terminal for payment by payment cards, a harmonized price list with the recommended price list of the Ministry of Health. Then, aesthetically acceptable work space, and a proper website in line with regulations that govern advertising in the field of health. The condition for the Clinic of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery was that it is a member of the national association – SRBPRAS, and for dental offices to have an employed assistant, that is a dental technician. Also, dental offices had to be registered for the last five years.
The Commission comprised of employees of the Ministry of Health and representatives of professional associations – Dental Chamber of Serbia and Association for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery of Serbia was checking if institutions fulfilled conditions.
– Many dental institutions did not have an electronic payment method, it seems that this condition was not met by most of them – he adds.
The Association for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery of Serbia that the clinics in this sector did not have difficulties in fulfilling conditions and expect an even greater response. So far, only 9 clinics for plastic surgery have received a certificate and they are all from Belgrade.
Experiences from the world
According to State Secretary Mahmutovic, it is estimated that 203 million Europeans engage in health tourism annually and spend about 115 billion euros. Today, 5% of all international journeys refer to medical tourism. In the structure of the current medical tourism trade, majority goes to dentistry – 40%, then to orthopedics, cardiology, cardiac surgery and neurosurgery – 42%, and to aesthetic surgery 15%.
Key factor in selecting a destination, besides price, is certainly standard of medical services, high expertise and hospitality of the hospital, as well as attractiveness of the site in a tourist sense.
This post is also available in: Italiano