Miguel Such, Juan José Gómez Doblas and Manuel Camas, three of the project’s founders. :: A. S.
Southern Spain is already well known for its climate, beaches and culture that bring thousands of holidaymakers every year. However the tourism industry is always looking for new markets, and now a group of experts has come up with using the Costa del Sol’s wide offer of private health care as an extra tourist attraction.
“We are sitting on a gold mine without realising it”, said cardiovascular surgeon Miguel Such, one of the five founding members of the ‘Malaga Health’ foundation, set up this week. The aim of the initiative is to turn the province of Malaga into an international reference for health, where wealthy patients from all over the world will choose to come for treatment.
“Our objective is to attract foreign patients to Malaga’s many good private health centres”, explains Dr Such, who is head of cardiovascular surgery at Malaga’s Clínico Universitario hospital.
The group calculates that private health tourism could bring the area some 250 million euros in three years’ time, once the foundation is operating at full potential. This calculation works on the assumption that the area could account for 0.5 per cent of the total volume generated by health tourism in the world: some 70 billion euros a year. The foundation is expected to start operating at the beginning of 2013.
The idea is that local hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centres, along with health foods and pharmaceutical firms and even prestigious hydrotherapy centres such as the Carratraca spa, will all join forces under the Malaga Health umbrella. The end result will be a wide choice of private health establishments which share a guarantee of the quality of their care.
So far the Xanit International hospital in Benalmádena has joined the scheme, as have the Parque San Antonio in Malaga, the Premium clinics in Marbella and Estepona, the Miramar Medical Institute and City Travel, an agency specialising in business, conference and events trips. It is expected that the Quirón and USP hospitals will join up once they have finished their merger process, and conversations are ongoing with the CHIP private hospital and the Santa Elena clinic.
Guarantee of excellence
The most important requirement to join the foundation will be a proven excellence of health services provided. A maximum of 30 establishments will join as patrons, contributing an annual fee of 10,000 euros. Then there will be the category of associate centre, with a monthly fee of between 300 and 800 euros, according to the services provided.
The idea for the Malaga Health foundation was forged a year ago by Miguel Such, along with four other professionals: the director of the heart management clinic and the Hospital Clínico, Juan José Gómez Doblas; the head of the Oncology service at the Clínico, Emilio Alba; the head of the Malaga Law Association, Manuel Camas; and engineer José Alba.
“None of us is interested in making money. We are embarking on this project out of a desire to benefit Malaga. We are doing it out of pure ‘malagueñismo’,” stresses Dr Such, who will be president of the foundation once is formally established.
“We want to associate the brand Malaga Health with the prestige of Spanish medicine in general and more specifically that of the medical services in Malaga, with the added value of a magnificent climate and a wide variety of leisure facilities. All this is an extraordinary attraction that we must take advantage of”, stressed Dr Such.
While it will be private centres that charge for the services provided, the scheme has been promised support from institutions such as Malaga City Hall, the School of Physicians and Unicaja. An agreement is to be signed with Malaga University and talks will be held with the Tourist Board and the Junta de Andalucía.
At first Malaga Health will target European patients bearing in mind the good air links with Malaga and the prestige enjoyed by Spanish medicine in Europe. Private patients from other parts of Spain will also be a target market, stressing that private health facilities in Malaga are behind only those of Madrid and Barcelona in importance. The third stage will be to focus on potential patients from North Africa and Arab countries followed by the American and Asian markets.