By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: Medical tourism is popular among residents of Kuwait for many reasons. In general, medical services in Kuwait are expensive and people love travelling, so they combine leisure with medical care. Also, some treatments are specific to certain countries due to experts there and the natural environment.

There are two types of medical treatment abroad. Either the treatment abroad is paid for by the government (for Kuwaitis) — these patients are sent to various destinations depending on their health problems, or medical tourism, where patients choose the destination and pay for treatment themselves.

There are only a few travel agencies that organize medical travel tours. According to all the travel agencies Kuwait Times contacted, the most popular destination for medical tourism is the Czech Republic. “The most in-demand destinations are Czechia and Slovakia for medical treatment and physiotherapy. But recently after the pandemic, Turkey is competing with them for many reasons, especially after medical spas in Czechia and Slovakia increased their prices,” Rita Joubanian of Al-Kharafi International Co for Travel and Tourism told Kuwait Times.

“The difficulty of getting a Schengen visa at this time of the year due to huge demand has made Turkey an attractive choice. Also, due to the cheap prices in Turkey, travelers are choosing to stay for longer periods, and combine leisure and treatment. So instead of traveling for one week or 10 days, they travel for three weeks or more and enjoy medical tourism,” she added.

Turkey is also popular for cosmetic surgeries. “Many clients book for hair implants, and Turkey is their favorite destination. Also, people here are very familiar with all places in Turkey. Recently, demand has increased for the less popular locations such as small villages,” Joubanian explained.

Travel agency provides additional services to travelers. “Some people choose to book online as it may be slightly cheaper, but we provide more secure travel. In case they face problems at their destination, we can always help them. Also, for medical treatment, I choose for them the best spa depending on their medical problems based on their medical reports,” Joubanian pointed out.

Fadwa from Al Waseet Travel and Tourism Services confirmed that the Czech Republic is the top destination for medical tourism, while Turkey is most in demand for plastic surgeries. “Other destinations such as the United States or United Kingdom are popular for medical treatment abroad by the government, but not for medical tourists who pay for themselves,” she said.

India and Sri Lanka have also become very popular for medical tourism in the last few years. “Kerala in India is very popular for the medical resorts there. They get complete care at the resort including food, drinks, massage, relaxation and so on. So, they don’t have to leave the resort, and enjoy eating healthily the organic food planted at the same place, according to their program,” stressed Fadwa.