Discover Europe’s hottest spot for medical travel
Did you know 6 out of every 10 people in the developed world wear glasses, contact lenses, or have undergone corrective eye surgery? In the United States alone, over 30 million people wear contact lenses daily. In the UK this number is nearing 4 million and steadily rising. Do you know where the first contact lenses were invited? In the Czech Republic by a chemistry professor named Otto Wichterle.
In 1963, Wichterle, a professor at the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, finished developing a HEMA gel and production process. Two years later the National Patent Development Corporation signed a license contract in Prague, which later became the Flexible Contact Lens Corporation. Their sublicense partner was Bausch & Lomb, who to this day remains one of the global leaders in contact lens manufacturing. This little known fact is just one of many medical and scientific achievements the world can thank the Czech Republic for. Other noteworthy feats include the first full face transplant, which was performed in 2011 by a team of surgeons in Boston, Massachusetts and lead by Dr. Pomahac, a Czech plastic surgeon.
Medical Travel: A Birds-Eye View
Medical achievements and scientific discoveries have captured the world’s attention and imagination throughout history. During the past several decades, medical travel has done the same. Originally a market dominated by Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Brazil as well as countries in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and India, medical travel has become an option for those seeking timely, efficient and affordable treatments. While the concept may still seem far-fetched, and even dangerous to some, the more recent Central European market, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, has started providing solutions and new opportunities for the wary patient. While the savings remain drastic, up to 80% in some cases, clinics and doctors understand that quality always takes priority over quantity. In addition to its regular tourist crowds, the Czech Republic and its capital city Prague, have recently emerged as a major destination for medical travellers seeking healthcare abroad.
Nestled in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic, recently adopting the official name Czechia, has been a member of the EU since May 2004. For centuries, the capital city of Prague has been admired around the world for its breathtaking architecture, spectacular views and rich history. The “Jewel in the Crown” of Europe attracts over 7 million visitors each year and is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world. Consequently, Prague has become progressively westernized and equally as developed as other western European cities. But why you ask? What makes Prague a sought after destination for medical travel? Let’s take a closer look.
Ranked among the world’s TOP 50 cities on the Numbeo’s quality of life index, Prague has surpassed cities such as Zurich, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Rome. One factor that sets Prague apart is its exceptional and affordable healthcare. Its high quality is largely attributed to the Czech Republic’s dedication and long-standing tradition of medical education. The first medical school was established when Charles IV, King of Bohemia, and the Holy Roman Empire, issued a charter founding the University of Prague (presently Charles University in Prague) with four faculties- theology, liberal arts, law, and medicine. The year was 1348. According to the OECD Better Life index, Prague’s educational standards also surpass those of some economically stronger nations, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland.
2. High Quality (Over Quantity)
How high you ask? On top of the country’s leading educational standards, there are strict state regulations and accreditation requirements for all healthcare facilities, both state-operated and private. Clinics undergo regular inspections and patients are encouraged to evaluate the quality of their care as well as participate in national surveys and quality watch programs to raise any criticisms. Not surprisingly, the road to becoming a medical professional in the Czech Republic is not a walk in the park. When medical students graduate from their accredited universities after a minimum of six years, they must pass a series of first level exams followed by a two years residency with an experienced practitioner. For example, a plastic surgeon must spend two years in general surgery and four years studying plastic surgery theory and gaining practical practice in state-certified clinic before ever having the opportunity to operate themselves. Additionally, over the past two decades more and more western-style, privately owned clinics have opened in Prague, often run by Western trained doctors.
Find Out Why More Brits Are Choosing Medical Travel
Ok, but why is the healthcare so affordable? There has to be a catch, right? Wrong. It is true that the Czech Republic’s average cost of living is much lower than other European countries, but it also means that salaries are lower than usual as well. For example, the best-paid doctors make around £13,000 per year whereas in neighboring Austria, salaries raise to £60,500. Due to the low cost of living, even top medical professionals in the Czech Republic expect much smaller salaries, allowing services to remain affordable while the quality remains high. For instance, the average silicon breast enlargement surgery in the UK costs £3,400 to £5,000.
Unfortunately, this usually does not include the price of preparation, anesthesia, compression garments or recovery time. In some circumstances the cost of the implants aren’t even included in the procedure price. The same surgery in Prague, all inclusive, including one to two nights’ recovery in a clinic, costs about £2,120. While the price savings are obvious, you can’t put a price on the headaches patients avoid having a package deal instead of paying a la carte.
4. Peace of Mind
Travelling abroad, be it for a medical treatment or leisure, can be extremely stressful at times. Long flights, unexpected delays, language barriers, etc. Another reason the Czech Republic is so attractive is its close proximity to the UK and Western Europe. A direct flight from London to Prague averages less than two hours and prices can be as low as £37. English literacy is also significantly high in the Czech Republic, especially in Prague. Most medical professionals are fluent in English, and it is essential for those welcoming patients from abroad. Cultural differences are also minimal for those coming from western nations, lessening the anxiety of travelling to a new country. Prague can also be the perfect place to relax and recoup after a procedure, and a much needed break from hustle and bustle at home.
So Why Prague?
So why the Czech Republic? Why Prague? The better question for those considering treatment abroad is, why not? Medical tourism is a booming industry, and rightfully so. As the foundation of healthcare in the countries such as the United States and United Kingdom continue to crumble, their citizens must look for new and progressive options. Prague, as well as other cities in Central Europe, has become an answer for thousands of people who were skeptical of travelling abroad from medical treatments. The Czech Republic, specifically, has not only set the bar high for medical advancements but medical travel as well. If you are seeking high standards, exceptional quality, affordable costs and peace of mind, look no further.