As the quality of Ecuador’s hospitals rises, the number of foreign patients coming to the country for medical procedures has steadily increased in parallel. Affordability, convenience, and leisure opportunities have become the mainstays for Ecuador as a medical tourism center, as well as excellent healthcare professionals who have been educated in the US or the UK. With proximity to tourist locations such as the Galápagos and the Amazon region, cities such as Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil have emerged as hubs for patients seeking dental, routine medical, or even cancer treatment. Furthermore, medical care in Ecuador can be significantly cheaper than that provided in better-known medical tourism destinations in Asia and Central America, often by as much as 50%.
Founded in 2010, the Ecuador Medical Tourism Association (EMTA) is spearheading a campaign to attract North Americans to Ecuador, citing affordability as one of the main advantages. According to the association, “it is not uncommon that the final cost of care (including accommodation and travel) will be anywhere from 30%-90% less than the cost of the same procedure in North America.” Some of the most popular treatments include dental work and orthopedic care, as well as a host of other commonly pricey operations. For example, a heart bypass in North America, which typically runs patients upwards of $130,000, costs just $10,000 in Cuenca. Hip or knee replacements, on average about $50,000 in the US, are priced at approximately $8,000 in Ecuador. The EMTA offers consultation, transportation, and lodging support in addition to preparation for patients’ care, as well as service throughout the recovery period.
MedTravel Ecuador, an agency from Quito promoting the phenomenon of medical tourism, lauds the professionalism of the staff of hospitals such as Hospital Metropolitano as one of the country’s strengths in healthcare services. The company offers packages including medical procedures, airline tickets, accommodation, and transfers. Alternatively, patients can choose to purchase treatment alone and discover Ecuador’s medical offering and tourism opportunities independently.
For those suffering from cancer, the Society for the Fight Against Cancer (SOLCA) Institute in Cuenca may also be of some interest. Originally founded in Guayaquil in 1957, the SOLCA treatment center sees more than 30,000 patients per year at its six branches throughout the country and attracts the most talented physicians in the field. In addition, SOLCA offers homeopathic treatments and natural remedies that are not widely available in the US or Europe. Those who see Ecuador as a place for medical care include patients from bordering Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela, as well as Ecuadoreans living abroad who take advantage of affordable medical care in the country when visiting relatives. Many testify that care in Ecuador rivals, or even surpasses, the level of quality of the care provided in North America. The combination of the accessible healthcare system and highly trained medical staff has also sparked an increase in the number of foreign retirees and elderly that choose Ecuador as place to enjoy the golden years of life.
© The Business Year