Do you know who invented the first soft contact lenses?
How about the surgeon who completed the first full face transplant in 2011? Or the Nobel Prize nominated scientist who pioneered antiviral drugs crucial to the fight against HIV? Thanks to a small country in the heart of Europe, all of these scientific discoveries and technological advances have been made possible.
Medical Tourism: The Czech Republic
What it lacks in size, the Czech Republic surely makes up in innovation, coining the old Czech proverb “Zlaté české ručičky a chytré české hlavičky” or “golden Czech hands and clever Czech heads.”
In keeping with tradition, the Czech Republic, an EU member since 2004, has recently become one of the most sought after destinations for medical tourism. Its capital city, Prague, often referred to as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Europe, or “The City of a Hundred Spires”, is one of the most popular tourist destinations around the world, enchanting more than 7 million visitors each year. Now, the vibrant and historical Czech capital is attracting more than just its usual beer and culture seeking crowds, but also thousands of medical travelers in need of everything ranging from cosmetic dentistry, breast augmentation and liposuction to “tummy tucks”, LASIK eye surgery and IVF. Other notable cities in the Czech Republic include Brno, Ostrava, and Pilsen.
Only a two-hour plane ride from London, its close proximity to the UK and Western Europe has made the Czech Republic the ideal location for those seeking medical procedures abroad. Along with its convenience, the Czech Republic maintains the highest standards of professionalism and top-notch quality, and considerably low prices when compared to other countries.
According to Iveta Jabouková of the Czech Tourism board, nearly 3 million CZK (£94,290/€109,978) has been dedicated to boosting the Czech Republic’s medical tourism profile this year alone.
Why Are People Choosing Medical Tourism?
This year, an estimated 11 million patients will hop on a plane, train or drive across borders for a medical treatment. Recently, Western Europe and the UK have felt the impact of major public sector cuts, resulting in a decrease in the quality of medical care in countries such as Germany, France, and Great Britain. Less spending on public healthcare has resulted in longer wait lines and understaffed hospitals and clinics.
Recent stats show that the average wait time for an approved treatment in the UK is more than 18 weeks- the worst it’s been in 7 years. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS), covers routine screenings, treatment for the long-term condition and end-of-life care, but often excludes prescription costs, optical and dental services, and infertility treatments such as IVF. Unapproved patients are forced to seek out expensive private practices, which are often unaffordable.
Fed up with long waiting lists, uninsured procedures, and hefty prices, an increasing number of people are looking overseas for medical care. When the quality of care, wait time and cost are considered, it makes a lot of sense. Financial savings from medical tourism can be significant. For instance, a silicon breast augmentation in the UK costs £3,400-£5,000 (€3,965-€5831). In the Czech Republic, an all-inclusive surgery will cost you £2,600 (€3,032) including travel, accommodation, and insurance.
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Similarly, dental veneers in the UK or United States can cost anywhere between £400-1000 (€466-€1,166) per tooth, depending on the material used.In the Czech Republic, costs may be as low as £290 (€338) per tooth including the preparation, local anesthesia, and patient care. On average, medical tourism can save patients anywhere from 30-80% and keep wait times as short as one week.
What To Expect in the Czech Republic
While cheaper prices are attractive, the superior quality of care is what sets the Czech Republic apart. Its medical industry is highly regulated and there are strict state regulations and accreditation requirements for all healthcare facilities, both state-operated and private. Accredited organizations such as ISO and JCI ensure that patients receive world-class treatment. Many private clinics provide ultra modern facilities. This ensures that each client has a luxurious place to stay during their treatment and recovery, as well as round-the-clock care.
Read More: How To Prepare For Your Trip Abroad
And if you think to become a medical professional in the Czech Republic was a park in the walk- think again. First, medical students must graduate from their accredited universities after a minimum of six years. Next, they must pass a series of first level exams followed by a two years residency with an experienced practitioner. For instance, a plastic surgeon must spend two years in general surgery and four years studying plastic surgery theory and gaining practical practice in a state-certified clinic before ever having the opportunity to operate themselves.
Over the past 2 decades more and more western-style, privately owned clinics have opened throughout the country.Quite often they are run by Western-trained doctors. English literacy is high, especially in Prague, and with cultural differences at a minimum, it is perfect for seasoned or first-time medical traveler.
All in all, the Czech Republic is the perfect place to relax and recoup after a procedure. It is also ideal for a pre or post-op sightseeing holiday and soaking in everything the city has to offer- a much-needed break from the daily grind. You gain quality of care and keep money in your wallet, all the while having an opportunity to experience one of Europe’s finest cities.