“We have to be proud and satisfied in terms of being able to offer our fellow citizens a health system that is one of the best in the world,” the minister, one of the most senior in government, said at a ceremony in Lisbon at which a protocol to promote the offer of medical tourism in Portugal was signed.
In order to attract citizens from other countries for health care, the Portuguese “have to be the first to believe that the health system is one of the best of the world” and promote the country in these terms, he stressed.
The minister also highlighted the proposals for health in the Socialist government’s draft state budget for next year, which he said include a “budgetary reinforcement” for the sector, and hailed medical tourism as a potential driver of growth in the economy.
The secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques, at the same event, agreed that medical tourism was a “very sure bet for tourism”. She recalled that the protocol now signed follows a study by an interdepartmental working group set up in 2016 that concluded that Portugal has a great deal to offer in this area and that health professionals and other experts have the capacity to respond to growing demand.
The protocol was signed by representatives of Portugal’s national tourist board, of the Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP), the Health Cluster Portugal organisation and the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitalisation.
In the document, medical tourism is described as a potential boost to the sector’s competitiveness and the objective is established of achieving annual turnover of more than €100 million from medical tourism.
“Whereas the work already undertaken in the field of Medical Tourism, in which it is recognised that the José de Mello Saúde/CUF Group, the Luz Saúde Group and the Lusíadas Group have presented and promoted the offer of Medical Tourism in Portugal, this can be extended to other providers, namely members of Health Cluster Portugal and the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitalisation”, the protocol reads.