President of JAMPRO, Diane Edwards (left); Communications Manager at JAMPRO, Keneshia Nooks (second left), and Director of Zierlich International, Dainty Powell, listen to an address at the launch of Zierlich International Dialysis Centre in Montego Bay on February 2. Photo: Garwin Davis
By Garwin Davis
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS) -- President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, says the country’s medical talent pool is at a stage where a successful launch into the health and wellness tourism market can be done.
Addressing the launch of the Zierlich International Dialysis Centre in Montego Bay on February 2, Edwards said that currently Jamaica boasts many internationally acclaimed practitioners and “a highly recognized medical school at the University of the West Indies.”
“Jamaica’s private dental and medical sector provides services at relatively lower costs than the United States of America, but with similar quality of care,” she noted.
“Also, Jamaica’s large and active Diaspora community continues to access a variety of healthcare services due to high costs in those countries,” Edwards added.
She pointed out that JAMPRO’s interest in medical tourism was first piqued in the 1990s as the globalization of healthcare, improved medical technology and demand for cheaper services made it a fast growing international sector with high rates of consumption.
Edwards said the government capitalized on consumption trends, by leveraging the already thriving tourism industry to attract visitors to use local medical services.
“Jamaica has subsequently been ranked by the 2014 Medical Tourism Index as the second most attractive medical tourism destination,” she noted.
The president said she met the England-based heads of the Zierlich team, Andre Nelson and Dainty Powell, at JAMPRO’s 2012 Diaspora Investment Conference in London where they expressed a desire to establish a dialysis treatment facility in Jamaica.
“With the support of JAMPRO, they developed a business plan and moved on to commence operations in June 2016,” Edwards noted.
“Now launched, the centre’s key focus is to promote health and tourism in the Caribbean by providing a proactive service for early detection of chronic kidney disease and on-going support for patients living with the condition,” she said.
Edwards said that, as Jamaica advances the development of a burgeoning medical tourism sector, JAMPRO has been keen on attracting more investments into the health care sector to increase innovation and services for Jamaican and international patients.
“JAMPRO sees great interest from our Diaspora as well as other investors in medical tourism, due to the revenue that can be generated from a full chain of services, from lifestyle to health care,” she argued.
For his part, Nelson said he is thankful for all the support his organization has received from the Jamaican government, describing it as nothing short of phenomenal.
“The feedback is that Zierlich is currently the best dialysis centre in Jamaica. JAMPRO has played a big part in us gaining accreditation, while tourism minister Edmund Bartlett has been championing our cause ever since he met with us in the United Kingdom,” he said.