Tourist trip to hospital

Amongst the many reasons that tourists visit our country, one is to take advantage of our healthcare

Amongst the many reasons that tourists visit our country, one is to take advantage of our healthcare. The high standard and relative profitability make our medical services a key contributor to the economy. Our reporters investigate what inspires people to travel thousands of kilometres for medical services and how patients often viewed abroad as incurable, receive hope of recovery in Minsk.

Latest equipment at the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre of Neurology and Neurosurgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery, heart transplants and prosthesis replacement offered by Belarusian clinics have already gained a strong reputation among foreigners. A few of the most popular medical institutions are the Republican Cardiology Scientific and Practical Centre, the Republican Scientific and Practical Transplantation Centre, the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre for Paediatric Oncology and Haematology and Minsk’s Clinical Emergency Hospital. Their doctors use the latest technology and most up to date equipment to treat patients.

We met a contented Nikolay in the Minsk Clinical Emergency Hospital’s luxury one-bed room. The room has a TV set, a refrigerator, a wardrobe, a table and a comfortable bed. It’s equipped in this style to help patients forget they are staying in a hospital. Nikolay has completed his treatment in the Neurology Department and is now to return home to Russia. Apart from recovering his health, Nikolay has benefited from top quality medical care at a low price. Foreigners are taken good care of, with doctors giving a personal service from admission to recovery and release. There are usually no language barriers as many doctors speak English and interpreters are also employed to assist where necessary with communication.

In the administrative area, telephones are ringing endlessly with patients booking and organising details of their treatment. One Russian patient came to the local Haematology Department in a last search for a cure after being given a terminal diagnosis of liver cancer and metastases in his home country. Specialists at the Clinical Emergency Hospital, under the guidance of surgeon Sergey Rashchinsky, operated on the man and he was released three weeks later with his health significantly improved.

Haematology, complex cardiac surgery and hip replacements are in the greatest demand at the Minsk clinic among patients from Russia, Georgia and Lithuania. The Administrative Department’s Head, Svetlana Balabko, shows us photos of the clinic’s most famous patients. Many foreigners are attracted by these recognisable names. “Patients appreciate the clinic’s status and the knowledge that our doctors are highly qualified professionals,” she explains. “Specialists Sergey Rashchinsky, Alexander Beimanov and others are well known abroad. In addition, our international website and modern advertising methods play a major role in the export of medical services.”

The department staff systematically analyse demand, paying attention to prices abroad and fixing competitive rates. Ms. Balabko turns to a call log and it’s easy to see the geography of the clinic’s coverage. “Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians and Lithuanians come for help most often. Citizens of Germany, France, Libya, Iran, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Turkey, Serbia, Venezuela, Armenia and China quite often receive emergency and pre-scheduled treatment. Foreigners are attracted by our value for money. An insurance company covers all expenses in some cases, others are settled in cash.”

Last year, 327 foreigners received hospital care at the Minsk Clinical Emergency Hospital and 413 were treated as outpatients. Over 300 patients were offered medical help in specialised departments or at the emergency clinic.

It is the professionalism of our doctors and reasonable prices that are the major engine of medical service exports in Belarus. It’s common knowledge that there have been several tourist companies servicing the needs of medical tourists for over ten years now. As the specialists point out, this is an industry where demand does not depend on foreign currency fluctuations.

By Olga Kosyakova
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