Medical Tourism Plans Dusted Off

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Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced at a press briefing last week that Government is still interested in seeing the BVI become a medical tourism jurisdiction.

In fact, Hon. Smith told reporters that Government is still pursuing the medical tourism opportunity. “We have already had experiences in certain areas of that. We’ve had several surgeries of a unique nature which have not been able to carry on in the BVI as surgeons have brought their patients here to have the operations,” the Premier said.

Peebles Hospital was designed with medical tourism in mind and Hon. Smith confirmed that the plan still includes the related facility. However, it was noted previously that the hospital needed to be accredited.

Separate from the push on the Government’s end there are other acknowledgments that the BVI should be venturing into the medical tourism area. In fact, this form of tourism is being noted as a key feature in the ‘Recovery to Development Plan of the Virgin Islands’ (RDPVI).

According to the ‘Recovery to Development Plan’ that was tabled in the House of Assembly a few months ago this venture could be a contributor to the BVI economy. However, it was noted that certain legislative/legal, infrastructural, and service related changes would be needed in order to fully realize the opportunities. Medical tourism had been on the table of the then Health Minister when the new Peebles Hospital was being built; other Health Ministers who succeeded her did not make any progress on the matter. Other islands in the Caribbean in the meantime have capitalized on the idea.

Pre-requisites will include the completion of the international accreditation of Peebles Hospital which, the report said would ensure the delivery of care of optimal health outcomes; and improve confidence in the healthcare system, as well as user and other stakeholder satisfaction.

Additionally, it was noted that in order to facilitate specialized service needs the fifth floor at Peebles Hospital will have to be retrofitted to expand the scope of specialist health care services available in the Territory.

Part of the solution is the recommended incorporation of technology aimed at improving the delivery of services through the strengthening of the health systems, and the use of e-health technologies. This will include the procurement of a health information platform, e-health and telemedicine equipment and services; and development of databases to support both provision of health care as well as the public health programmes.

On a general note, the development mentioned plans to have Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) with private providers to allow for the greater efficiency and synergies in the delivery of healthcare services.

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