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Colombia: The World’s Healthcare Destination

Changing The World’s Opinion

In the last fifteen years, Colombia has continued to show the world how a country so blighted by bad press and stereotypes can overcome its stigma. Today, Colombia features in glossy travel agent brochures, in the travel section of newspapers and has become a shining light in Latin America. According to the Ministry of Tourism 534,333 tourists arrived in Colombia, between January and April 2013, a figure that is 3.9% more than the same period in 2012. However, it is not only its warm climate, beautiful scenery and white sandy beaches that are attracting tourists. Colombia now stands as a major player in Global Healthcare serving the needs of patients coming from all over the Americas and further afield.

A Quality Health Service


Colombia has an extensive range of modern and private healthcare institutions that are run by well-trained, articulate doctors who although they go through the same level and intensity of training as US doctors, receive a fraction of the salary. Some of the most famous institutions such as the Barraquer Eye Clinic (Bogotá), the Fundacion Cardiovascular de Colombia (Bucaramanga) and Fundacion Oftalmologica FOSCAL (Bucaramanga) are at the forefront of their fields in the world of medicine. The quality of service and medical infrastructure, their leading technology, trained medical staff and international certifications make Colombia the world’s up and coming healthcare destination. Other factors such as the lower cost, shorter waiting lists, a wide range of services and the opportunity to combine tourism with healthcare activities such as surgery rehabilitation have produced this new and fortuitous industry for Colombia.

Whilst providing an almost unrivalled service in Latin America and the world, the effects of creating such an industry have an even wider positive aspect, through which jobs and wealth are brought to the region. Even though Colombia’s immense economic potential is being held back by inaccurate images of the country; contrary to its Latin American neighbours, Colombia has excelled. Health tourism could be the catalyst Colombia need to continue progressing and developing and in 2011, health tourism in Colombia generated revenues of USD$80 million. In the first half of 2012, the figures stood at USD$48 million, a 32% growth in comparison to the first half of 2011, which was USD$37 million.

Health Tourism Future For Colombia

A relatively strange concept, health tourism, is whereby patients leave their country of residence to travel to another country in search of medical treatment whilst visiting the attractions before or after their treatment. The increase of this sector can be seen as, in 2009, 0.9% of tourists to Colombia stated that their motive for their visit was for medical reasons. Three years later in, 2012, this figure had doubled to 1.8%. As the Colombian Government continues to spend on improving the infrastructure and healthcare system of Colombia, the final year figures for 2013 should rise even further. This new found sector as well as, Colombia’s aim to become the number one location for healthcare tourism in the world has wider encouraging factors for the local population and according to the Colombian Association of Medical Tourism (ACTUS), it generated 16,000 jobs in 2011. Colombian Minister, Sergio Diaz-Grandos, showed Colombia’s future intentions by stating that by 2032, Colombia will generate approximately USD$6 billion in revenues, based on its high-quality and cost-competitive medical services. The authorities and private sectors are also concentrating on reducing any of the medical system’s short-comings. With the goal to attract 2.8million medical tourists the authorities are beginning to facilitate language courses in order to increase the levels of bilingual doctors and nurses in hospitals.

Colombia is a country of natural beauty, with a strong and vibrant culture and looks set to play a large and important role in the world in the future. With the right concentration of resources and the continued development of the country, Colombia is set to succeed in its goal of becoming the number one healthcare tourism destination in the world. Once a country plastered on the front pages for all the wrong reasons, Colombia is beginning to appear in only a positive light and its change of fortune is set to only benefit Colombia and her population in the future.