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$1.3m boost from medical tourism

A local urologist is making a strong case for medical tourism in The Bahamas, asserting that data compiled in 2009 indicated that$1.3 million was injected into the economy from his private organization’s work with prostate cancer patients.

According to Dr. Robin Roberts, a 12-member team that came to Nassau one weekend per month to treat patients using a new High Intensity Focused Ultrasound(HIFU)treatment has given a slight boost to the economy during an average three to five days in Nassau.

“We were able to compile data from January 1 to December 31, 2009 and[the team]said outside of the money they were paid for the procedure, they spent$1.35 million,”he said at the Bahamas Business Outlook yesterday.”The potential of health tourism and what it means for our country is unbelievable.

“I think health tourism for us is a natural evolution in what we do.”

Providing a breakdown of how that$1.3 million was spent in the country, Roberts said$280,813 was spent on 887 hotel room nights for the team,$27,517 was spent on round trip transport to and from the airport and around town,$356,565 was paid to local physicians providing consulting and anesthesia services,$616,864 was paid to Doctors Hospital and outpatient medical facilities and over$71,290 was paid to the Medical Council and the Immigration Department.

That’s not to mention the money that was spent in local restaurants and shops, among other places, said Roberts. The economic impact of this kind of travel could bring real benefits for The Bahamas, he said, comparing the regular stopover visitors$1000 a day average to the$1600 averaged from the health tourist’s stopover spend for one day.

However, he stressed that the most important health tourist was still Bahamians themselves.

“At the end of the day, the real reason and real take home message that I want you to realize is that the number one health tourist is the Bahamian,”Roberts said.”Bahamians are the number one[group of]tourists that travel to Miami on a per capita basis…we spend, as Bahamians, approximately$2 billion on health care services.

“If we get our Bahamian tourists back and improve the environment of health in The Bahamas, so Bahamians[receive]health care services at home, you don’t want to see the amount of jobs that would create and the impact it would have and how we would diversify our economy.”

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