Interview: Cuba seeks to expand health tourism to diversify travel offers

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-25 16:06:54|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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HAVANA, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Cuba strives to expand its world-class health tourism industry to be one of the most attractive travel-related offers for millions of visitors each year, said Miladys Orraca, president of Cuban Medical Services (SMC).

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Orraca said that last year, the SMC has diversified its services to cover not only chronic disease treatment but also other programs like plastic surgery, spas, drug and physical rehab.

"We have 13 branches throughout the country, five specialized hospitals, nine international health clinics, as well as medical offices in the island's major tourism destinations and a network of pharmacies," she said.

Orraca added the SMC has 280 programs available to foreign visitors as Cuba has a long history of putting out highly trained medical teams.

The quantity of certain drugs produced only in the Caribbean nation for treatments is surging as health tourism attracts an increasing number of people, she said.

"Such is the case of Heberprot-P, which is only manufactured in Cuba and destined to treat diabetic foot ulcers," said Orraca. "For over a decade it has managed to reduce the risk of amputations by more than 70 percent."

"These services are the result of the hard work of Cuba's biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, characterized by innovation and health-tourism products," she said.

"Our goal is to continue raising the quality of all services offered by the SMC, although we need foreign capital to develop some of these initiatives," she added.

The SMC now has three foreign investment projects in the island's business portfolio, namely a spa, a comprehensive health center, and an air ambulance transportation service.

With over 50,000 health professionals in the Caribbean nation and around 2,000 in 23 countries worldwide, the SMC has started boosting its sales networks to attract more international visitors.

Health tourism in the island has been rapidly developing and is currently a core sector in the country's goal of boosting its income.