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Board-certified bi-lingual doctors, sophisticated procedures – big savings

Panama’s reputation as the most health-conscious country in Latin America dates back to the construction of the Panama Canal when the Isthmus was freed from tropical diseases. Not only did U.S. doctors help to eradicate malaria, yellow fever and typhoid; they inspired generations of Panamanian physicians to train in the US and Europe and return to their homeland to build hospitals with the latest technology.

Health care in developed countries is generally exorbitantly expensive, often dogged by long waiting lists and indifferent care. Now, people from these countries are realizing that they can get as good or better treatment in other countries at a lower cost – and have a holiday into the bargain.

In Panama, health and medical tourism is growing rapidly, mostly because our medical professionals are well-trained abroad, bi-lingual and board-certified; and our hospitals have the latest technologies for surgery and sophisticated procedures.

On most procedures Panama offers savings of more than 50% over US and European prices and in addition, medical expenses (including travel) can be deductible under US tax law. The fascination with fitness, beauty and alternative therapies is another factor in the growth of health tourism.

Health Tourism in Panama

The services a foreigner can find here include dental implants (average cost in the US $2,500 – in Panama $1,000) plastic surgery, assisted reproduction, cardiology and ophthalmology. State of the art CAT scanning machines, tri-dimensional computer reconstructions and the latest radiation therapies for cancer are some of the technologies available at Panama’s hospitals.

Hospitals in Panama City which cater to foreign visitors are Centro Medico Paitilla (affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation), Hospital Nacional and Hospital Punta Pacifica (affiliated to Johns Hopkins Medicine International).

Another of Panama City’s major hospitals is Clinica Hospital San Fernando (affliated with Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Hospital and Clinic; Miami Children’s Hospital and Baptist Health International of Miami) which has recently opened the Clinica San Fernando in Coronado offering 24 hour service to the growing ex-pat communities of Coronado, San Carlos, El Valle, Altos de Maria and Buenaventura. Their services include radiography, ultrasound and CAT scans; laboratory; dental and eye clinics and general medicine consultations teamed with specialist consultants in their main hospital in Panama City.

In David, Chiriquí province, Hospital Chiriquí and Hospital Mae Lewis provide comprehensive health care.

Dr. Richard Ford who runs a family-owned clinic is an associate of an internet-based organization called Pana-Health which directs foreign treatment-seekers to appropriate affiliated doctors, hospitals and clinics. Pana-Health is also affiliated to Pesantez Tours, a local tour operator which looks after the transport, hotel and tourism needs of health-seekers.

One company focusing on the niche Panamanian market is Ageless Wonders, working closely with Johns Hopkins affiliate Hospital Punta Pacifica. One philosophy of Ageless Wonders is that clients can receive alternative therapies in extraordinary locations, at the beach, the mountains or in a tropical rainforest. The company guides clients throught the entire medical vacation process for any kind of medical procedure be it preventative, aesthetic or complex surgery. They say that many aging adults are interested in a holistic approach to their health. That is: don’t wait until you are ill.

Alternative, complementary and preventative medicine are also well-represented in Panama. Acupuncture has its own professional body here – a branch of the Circulo de Investigadores de Acupunctura de China.

Other disciplines include Homeopathy, Homotoxology, Herbal Medicine, Prolotherapy, Intravenous Quelation, Magnetotherapy, Manual Therapies (Chiropractic, Reibi).