A global leader in health care provision
Internationally trained health professionals and rigorous adherence to high standards, ensure the quality of private health care in Cyprus is second to none. Advances in medical research mean that in certain fields of medical innovation Cyprus can legitimately claim to be a world leader.
In Cyprus health care is provided by both the state and the private sector, with an impressive 74 private hospitals and clinics. The presence of numerous prestigious private health care facilities significantly enhances the island’s reputation as a centre for medical excellence and highlights the opportunities available to foreign investors.
The American Medical Centre, which started life as a specialist cardiovascular institute, is one such state-of-the-art facility and now offers a wide range of medical services. Another specialist institution is the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre, a registered charity, which recently began a three-year €17 million programme to upgrade its facilities.
Substantial investment in the state sector has meant that procedures such as kidney transplants and open heart surgery, which once necessitated a journey overseas, are now routinely carried out within Cyprus. Around 7.3% of GDP was spent on health services in 2011, while the sector generated around 6% of GDP and employed 4.2% of the workforce during the same period. Plans to roll-out of the much-anticipated national health scheme are however to be postponed, following a report by the IMF into the impact that the scheme’s implementation would have on the economy.
In the short term, steps have been taken to reduce patient waiting time through the introduction of minor injuries units and an automated bed availability system and in a separate development, the Ministry of Health has embarked on a seven-year programme to computerise medical provision and develop an integrated health monitoring system. This will involve the introduction of digitised health records, the expansion of medical services to remote areas via telemedicine and robotics, and access to international medical data banks.
Cyprus’ well-equipped and sophisticated medical infrastructure has also turned the island into a centre for health tourism, a market which already accounts for approximately 2.5% of international tourism revenue, with an estimated overall value of €60 to €120 million per annum. The majority of medical tourists come from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and the Middle East and most seek either dental or cosmetic procedures. However, increasing numbers now visit Cyprus for fertility treatment, while the island is gaining a reputation for other specialist procedures such as cancer surgery, minimally invasive spinal surgery and facial reconstruction.
The sector’s development as a centre for medical excellence received a significant boost recently with the launch of a four-year postgraduate Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) course at the University of Nicosia (launched autumn 2011). The qualification combines the convenience of training within Cyprus, with all the benefits involved in accessing international expertise. It arose from a unique collaboration between the University of Nicosia and St George’s Hospital (University of London) and it is expected that in time its graduates will make a significant contribution to medical research on the island.
Pioneering research work is already being undertaken at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, which has developed a ground-breaking, non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome. The calibre of health care in Cyprus is truly remarkable. The combination of internationally experienced personnel, advanced technological capabilities, and cost-effective, world class medical services mean that this sector will continue to flourish and expand.