Kazakhstan opens medical tourism school

A medical tourism school for tourist company employees will open in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

A medical tourism school will be launched in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The centre will serve as a training facility for tourist company employees and managers, plus prospective medical tourism agents.

Kazakhstan Tourist Association supports the proposal, as there is a demand for personnel able to work with medical tourists; “It requires communication skills, knowledge of medicine of countries which they work with and attention to the future tourist/traveller who goes to get medical services. Training seminars will be conducted within the school and leading experts in the field of transplantation, oncology and cosmetic surgery will be invited. There will be a systematic approach to very simple things, such as how to improve tourist service quality not only by a tourist company, but also by the clinic as well.”

The tourist association regularly conducts research on the needs of Kazakh and overseas citizens. Beach tourism, which formerly led, has been replaced with medical tourism.

Several countries have an agreement with Kazakhstan on visa-free entry, which helps when seeking to attract medical tourists.

The main attraction has been cheap dental treatment, but medical tourists are also attracted by clinics offering cosmetic surgery, cardiovascular treatment, oncology, eye surgery and transplants. Most clinics have high standards but low prices.

Growth in the number of modern clinics is attracting domestic medical tourists plus people from other countries. Citizens of the CIS block and the USA, UK, Turkey, India, Bulgaria and Italy all go to Kazakhstan to receive treatment.

The Research Institute of Eye Diseases in Astana seeks to attract locals and foreigners. It increases the number of overseas patients each year and locally gets patients from Dagestan, Chechnya, Ufa, Orenburg, Sol-Iletsk and Orsk.

According to the Ministry of Health, there were over 3600 medical tourists in 2015, and this is expected to rise to 5000 in 2016 based on getting 1879 medical tourists in the first quarter of 2016.

The government supports the development of both domestic and foreign medical tourism as it can bring substantial sums to regional health budgets and has great potential.