What treatments and factors have made medical tourism in Belarus reliable?
In the past decade Belarus has been in a constant effort to promote medical tourism within its borders and to become a reliable medical tourism destination for its neighboring countries. To that end, the Eastern European state has established extensive medical and research agreements with China, and now the two states have signed several cooperation contracts on medical tourism. Here we will examine the potentials, obstacles, benefits and characteristics of medical tourism in Belarus.
Medical Tourism in Belarus and Its Troubles
In order to achieve its goals in medical tourism, Belarus will face a clunky and steep road. Belarus’ neighboring countries all have similar aspirations in medical tourism. Russia, who is Belarus’ largest Cultural-Political ally, sends most of its medical tourists to other countries, while Poland and Lithuania are direct rivals of Belarus in medical tourism.
Governmental Supports for Medical Tourism in Belarus
Belarus’ main silver lining for success in medical tourism is following the most basic principle for upstart countries in the industry: Providing high quality services with low prices. Other than this, the Belarusian government led by Alexander Lukashenko has shown great enthusiasm and support for medical tourism. The new visa act that has recently been legislated by the government makes the process of acquiring visa much easier, particularly for medical tourists, and now medical tourists of more than 80 countries can enter Belarus for medical purposes without the need for a visa.
Medical Tourism Statistics in Belarus
The general aim of this act and the Belarusian government as a whole is to make the country into a competitive medical tourism destination for patients from the former USSR republics.
These acts and supports have resulted in relative success. In 2018, more than 50 thousand medical tourists visited Belarus and in 2019, this number was doubled, reaching 100 thousand. When compared to the stats of the more well-known destinations of medical tourism in Eastern Europe, like Poland and Bulgaria, these numbers while do not match the same volumes, but they are still considerable, and herald the potential emergence of a new medical tourism player in the region.
The Structure of Healthcare and Medical Tourism in Belarus
Treatment in Belarus is free for all the citizens of the country in all public medical centers. This means that the vast majority of medical tourism services in Belarus are rendered by the private section. The Clinical and Regional Hospital at the Capital Minsk, is the most well-known and reputable private hospital in the country and also is responsible for the most services provided for medical tourists.
Among Belarusian cities, the capital Minsk is by far has the most population and available medical services. For political reasons, most of the government’s capability in different industries and services is centered on the capital. This makes Minsk the only truly reliable city for medical tourists headed to Belarus.
Although Minsk is quite the adequate and well-rounded city for medical services, and has quite advanced medical centers, the lack of diverse cities and medical tourism destinations in the country is a major drawback for medical tourism in the country.
Who Makes the Customer Base of Medical Tourism in Belarus?
The majority of medical tourists that visit Belarus tend to be from former USSR countries. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Latvia provide the most medical tourists to Belarus. Many of the Russian citizens from the more rural and poorer parts of Russia in the west also find their way to Belarus.
Considering that Russia and Belarus have open border agreements, these Russian patients find travel to Minsk to be much cheaper and closer than travel to Russian metropolises like Moscow, Volgograd and Saint Petersburg.
Medical Tourism Facilitators in Belarus
As a results of the potentials that Belarus has shown in medical tourism, several medical tourism facilitator companies have entered the country and have opened their branches there in order to make these potentials a reality.
The most notable of these companies are the native MedTravelBelarus and Westgalmur. Agencies like MedTravelBelarus have extensive ties and contracts with reliable Belarusian private medical centers and facilitate the process of a medical tourist’s treatment through acquiring visas, accommodation and bookings, etc.
Notable Treatments of Medical Tourism in Belarus
Much like its counterparts in Eastern Europe, Belarus also emphasizes its might in cosmetic surgeries, dentistry and In Vitro Fertilization.
Infertility treatment (IVF) in Belarus
IVF cycles in Belarus have a 43% success rate per cycle, which is higher than the global average (about 30%) and even the EU average (37%). Unlike many countries, this treatment does not face legal obstacles in Belarus and is performed both with and without donated ovum.
Cosmetic surgery in Belarus
Cosmetic surgery in Eastern Europe has a thriving market and is in high demand. For this reason, Belarus is already ahead of the curve in this medical field. The price of these cosmetic services is also much cheaper than countries in the EU. For example, a breast augmentation procedure costs only $1,000 at a beauty clinic in Minsk, while the same surgery would cost at least $7,000 in the UK.
Dentistry in Belarus
Belarusian dentistry is also of high quality due to the medical heritage of the Soviet Union, which was the most advanced in the field of dentistry in the world.
Dental services, both medical and cosmetic are easily found in Belarus. The price of these services is also significantly cheaper when compared to its rivals. A dental implant in Belarus may cost as little as $550. While each tooth implant in the United States costs $2,500.
The future of Medical Tourism in Belarus
With the support of the government and proper investments in the last decade medical tourism has seen considerable growth and has managed to – at least on an initial level –place itself on the medical tourism map of Eastern Europe.
But in order for Belarus to realize its dream of becoming the dominant destination for medical tourists of former USSR republic, the country needs political stability, decentralization of medical services from the capital and more diverse medical service to use as selling points.
If these issues are resolved, and considering the strong medical infrastructure and smart medical tourism facilitator countries in Belarus, the country has the potential to not only become the preferred destination of former USSR states, but of the entire Eastern Europe.
Article by: Parsa Khaknezhad
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