New LatAm medical tourism federation

Business associations in Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Guatemala have founded the Latin American Federation of Health Business Chambers and Associations (Latam-Salud), to promote medical and health tourism, with the expectation that other countries in the region will join.

The aim of Latam-Salud is to promote joint initiatives, and create a space for the exchange of experiences, knowledge and the search for solutions to regional problems faced by the health sector in Latin America.

Among the objectives of Latam-Salud are to:

  • Provide solutions to problems through the transfer of information between countries.
  • Encourage innovation, quality and safety in health systems.
  • Create collaborative alliances for the development and strengthening of medical tourism in Latin America.

The National Association of Entrepreneurs of Colombia (ANDI) is a non-profit association with 30 sub sector groups. The Sectoral Chamber of Health of Colombia was formed in 2000 in Bogota to represent the interests of the country’s private health providers. It is made up of 30 private clinics and hospitals of various levels of complexity, clinical laboratories, outpatient and home care, diagnostic imaging centres and others.

The Dominican Association of Health Tourism (ADTS) is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the Dominican Republic as a medical tourism destination. It aims to inform, assess, support and connect the national and foreign public with health and wellness services in the Dominican Republic. Founded in 2013 it has 12 members – including hospitals, clinics, dental clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics and fertility clinics. It aims to position the Dominican Republic as a leader in health services and wellness within Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Cámara Costarricense de la Salud (CCS) is the Costa Rican Chamber of Health.  The group has 95 members that includes pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinics, professionals, universities, life and health insurance, health cooperatives, medical tourism companies, pharmacies, research centres, representatives of the medical industry, clinical laboratories, pharmacies, plus wellness and retirement organisations and businesses. It took over existing body PROMED in 2017. A non-profit organisation for the private healthcare industry in Costa Rica, it seeks to ensure that international patients visiting Costa Rica receive consistent, high-quality medical and dental services from members, and to consolidate and promote Costa Rica as a leader in medical tourism, healthcare and wellness travel.

The Guatemalan Exporters Association (AGEXPORT) is a non-profit, private organisation founded in 1982 with the purpose of promoting and developing exports of goods and services in Guatemala. It groups and represents small, medium and large exporting entrepreneurs of Guatemala, in order to support them with services and public policies that help them position themselves and remain in the world market. Within the AGEXPORT services sector, there are four sub sectors – one of which is health and welfare tourism.

During the first half of 2021 Guatemala generated US$25 million revenue from health and wellness services, despite many travel restrictions. The sector presented a year-on-year growth of 71% compared to the same period in 2020.  Health and wellness travellers come from the United States, Canada, Southern Mexico and Central America. The portfolio of health services offered in the country divide into 40% dentistry, 16% preventive medicine, 10% orthopaedics, 8% bariatric, 7% cardiovascular, 2% ophthalmology, and 6% plastic and aesthetic.

The new LatAm association claims that in the world around 25 million people travel annually in search of health services, spending on average between US$7,000 and US$15,000 per trip (six times more than a conventional tourist), which generates new sources of employment for both companies that provide health services and companies that offer complementary services to the sector (i.e. hotels, airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, transportation companies, restaurants, craft shops, recreation centres and spas).