Healthcare Export/Medical Tourism Sector of Pakistan
A new thrust area for tourism

Defining Medical Tourism

Medical tourism, also called medical travel or health tourism is a term that has risen from the rapid growth of an industry where people from all around the world are traveling to other countries to obtain medical, dental, and surgical care, while at the same time touring, vacationing, and fully experiencing the attractions of the countries that they are visiting. Medical or Health tourism has become a common form of vacationing, and covers a broad spectrum of medical services. It mixes leisure, fun and relaxation together with wellness and healthcare. The idea of the health holiday is to offer an opportunity to get away from daily routine and come into a different relaxing surrounding. Here one can enjoy being close to the beach and the mountains and at the same time able to receive an orientation that will help improve one’s life in terms of health and general well being. It is like rejuvenation and cleanup process on all levels - physical, mental and emotional.

Key Drivers of Medical Tourism

Overburdened healthcare infrastructure and high costs in the West are the key drivers for the boom in medical tourism. The healthcare infrastructure in Europe and the United States is under severe pressure. In Britain, the National Health Service (NHS) has a long wait list of patients for surgery. In US, the healthcare crisis has different dimensions — it has 50 million uninsured citizens while the insured have to pay dearly for healthcare facilities. To add to this, the stringent visa regulations imposed by US and European countries after 9/11 episode has led to a growing number of foreign patients from Middle East to visit Asian countries for treatment. All these factors have opened up avenues for hospitals in various Asian countries to promote medical tourism.

Pakistan and the Medical Tourism Industry

Pakistan has a "huge potential" in becoming a regional medical tourism hub, comparable to many other countries in its neighborhood. Medical tourism in Pakistan has been arranging potential trips for many medical health and care procedures. A number of modern hospital facilities exist in major cities such as Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore that are fully equipped and facilitated with the latest medical technologies. Many doctors and surgeons in Pakistani hospitals tend to be foreign qualified.

A number of patients from neighbouring countries have traveled to Pakistan for treatment. Many patients, mainly of Pakistani origin, from the Middle East, United Kingdom and United States, also travel to Pakistan to seek a range of treatments which they cannot otherwise access in their resident countries either due to expense or lack of insurance coverage there. Pakistan offer services to medical tourists in orthopedic, optometric, ENT, urology treatments, cardiac surgery, infertility treatments, plastic surgery such as liposuction, hair transplantation and cosmetic surgery at cheap rates besides offering facilities in endoscopies, X-rays, MRI, CT scan, cardiology, and arthroscopy. Costs for treatment in Pakistan are more than 50% of what doctors and hospitals charge abroad. Liposuction can cost between Rs0.7-0.8 million abroad, while the same procedure here can be done within Rs0.2 million, similarly, the cost for infertility treatment abroad can range between Rs2.5-3 million, while the same treatment in Pakistan costs around Rs0.2 million.

Main Attractive Medical Treatments

  • * Hair Transplant
  • * Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery
  • * Cardiac Surgery
  • * Dental Surgery
Hair Transplant in Pakistan

Hair transplantation as the name indicates is relocation of hairs from one part of the body to another part or recipient area is called hair transplantation. Hair loss problem exists in all races and cultures. Hair loss can be partial or complete and to find hair loss solution is a crucial for cosmetic and social reason. The most effective remedy for baldness is hair restoration surgery. There are some exceptions however. Certain diseases or medications can cause temporary hair loss, and in a situation like this the root cause has to be addressed. Some patients with unrealistic expectations should be guided about the actual outcome. Future considerations in terms of further loss of hair have to be kept in mind and the procedure planned accordingly.

With the increase of medical tourism, many transplant destinations are now in the world from where you can get the cheaper transplant treatment and Pakistan is one of these destinations providing hair transplants at a very low cost. Citizens of various countries come here to get treatment and to save their money.

The average cost of mega session ( strip surgery ) in different countries is as follow:
USA $5000-$10,000 Europe $4000-8000 Pakistan $1200-$2000

Experienced and specialized surgeons are working here to treat patients on a low cost. These surgeons have got their specialization from the famous medical universities of the world. They have latest instruments and they use updated method of treatment. They take care of cleanliness and hygiene of their clinics. They have well mannered staff that assists patients in guiding about the basic procedures.

Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery in Pakistan:

Plastic surgery is a rapidly progressing specialty in Pakistan. All its sub branches have seen tremendous expansion in the last few years. The spectrum of plastic surgery being practiced in Pakistan includes:

Treatment of Birth Defects:
  • i. Cranio-facial clefts, including the common cleft lip, cleft palate, speech problems and food regurgitation from the nose
  • ii. Birthmarks, including hemangiomas and vascular malformations
  • iii.Congenital hand problems including joint fingers, bent finger, duplications and absent components
  • iv. Congenital melanocytic nevus may involve any part of the body and may be of any size
Treatment of Burns:
  • i. Immediate treatment of the burnt patients
  • ii. Continued treatment of burn wounds
  • iii. Treatment of burn scars and contractures
Treatment of Hand Problems (Hand Surgery):
  • i. Deformities of the hand that are present at birth may include joint fingers, bent fingers missing components and duplications.
  • ii. Plastic surgeons are involved in breast cancer removal and breast reconstruction after cancer surgery
  • iii. Limb preserving surgery for cancers of arms, hands, thighs, legs and feet
  • iv. Cancers of the head and neck including cancers inside the mouth, on the face and in the neck.
Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic Surgery tourism is a price-driven phenomenon that has experienced increased growth over the past decade. Since elective cosmetic surgery procedures are not covered by insurance, price is the major selling point of cosmetic surgery tourism, with entire vacation/surgical packages costing less than individual procedure, e.g., in the United States. With the growing trend of surgical tourism, Pakistan has contributed significantly towards treatment of patients from all over the world in particular patients from the United Kingdom, Austria, Siri Lanka, Middle East and various other European countries. The reasons why patients chose Pakistan as an ideal destination for their respective surgeries are many, e.g., treatment is performed by professionals in accordance with the standards observed in the Uk and United States of America and by professionals who have graduated from these countries and have been trained in their respective specialties in the above mentioned countries; treatment costs are one-fifth of what these patients would have to pay in their respective countries; staff are well versed in English, etc. The range of cosmetic surgery being practiced in Pakistan includes:

  • * Body contouring procedures include liposuction, tummy tuck, breast lift, breast augmentation, breast reduction and procedures after massive weight loss
  • * Facial enhancements include nose jobs (rhinoplasty), lip pumping, chin augmentation, correction of asymmetry and scar revisions
  • * Minimally invasive procedures include botox, fillers, lasers, peels dermabrasion, and collagen treatments
  • * Procedures to reverse the aging features include facelift, eye job, fat injections and hair transplantation.