(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Kingdom's medical tourism sector is expected to grow significantly this year but could achieve better growth with more strategic planning, a sector representative said on Saturday.
Zuhair Abu Faris, president of the Jordan Hospitals Association (JHA), said that due to its stability, security, and high-quality medical services, the Kingdom has been ranked by the World Bank as the top medical tourism destination in the region and fifth in the world.
Since the second half of 2011, he added, 170,000 patients from across the world have come to Jordan for medical care. Of the total, 50,000 were from Libya.
"Now Jordan provides medical services for Arab countries such as Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Algeria, Palestine and the Gulf states, and we are looking to expand these services to Europe, America and some African countries," Abu Faris told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
However, he noted, the various institutions representing the Kingdom's healthcare sector need to cooperate more closely in developing medical tourism.
"We should formulate a national strategy for marketing Jordanian medical services and establish a national entity with representatives from all concerned sectors," Abu Faris said, adding that the healthcare needs of foreign countries should be studied in order to tailor the Kingdom's medical tourism packages to meet the market's demand.
According to JHA figures there are 20,000 physicians, 22,000 nurses and some 102 hospitals in Jordan, 30 of which are operated by the Ministry of Health, 11 by the Royal Medical Services, 59 by the private sector and two by universities.
Around 180,000 patients came for treatment in the Kingdom's hospitals in 2011, compared to around 220,000 the previous year, according to Private Hospitals Association (PHA) figures.
In a previous statement to The Jordan Times, PHA President Fawzi Hammouri said the sector was particularly hard hit by the conflicts in Libya and Yemen earlier in 2011, but witnessed growth in the second half of the year when patients from these countries came to the Kingdom for treatment.