Cuba to seek foreign investment in health tourism and well-being

17th October 2022

Cuba is hoping to bring together its experience in tourism and its capabilities in medical research and health care to become an international centre for health tourism and well-being. The intention is to seek foreign investment to develop the concept.

According to Dr Yamila de Armas, President of the Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos SA (CSM), the initiative will be launched at the First International Fair of Medical Tourism and Well-being (FitSaludCuba). The event forms a part of the much larger 17-20 October ‘Health for All’ trade fair and convention which is expected to attract to Havana some 1,500 participants from 65 countries.

Speaking at a press conference about the event, Dr de Armas, the President of CSM, a state entity which offers a wide range of medical and health services to visitors to Cuba, said that the intention is to explore how Cuba’s tourism, scientific expertise and health care might be united in a manner that post-pandemic addresses the challenge of achieving universal health care.

FitSaludCuba will include a foreign investment forum and will, she said, also have the objective of identifying potential strategic partners interested in ventures that encourage the well-being of those vacationing on the Island and elsewhere.

According to Cuba’s state media, the event is intended to expose the products, experiences, and advances of health tourism in Cuba, consolidate alliances in medical and wellness tourism, consider marketing models in medical tourism, and explore the development trends of wellness tourism. Prensa Latina reported that it will address the country’s advances in biotechnology, medicine and science, and its potential to become a regional leader in health tourism.

CSM, a state linked entity, already offers a wide range of medical and health services to visitors to Cuba. It has branches in 13 of Cuba’s 15 provinces providing a range of medical and well-being services, with access to Cuban professionals in medicine, as well as to scientists and specialists. It presently provides rapid diagnostic services, therapies, health and wellness programmes, and facilities for convalescence which it says aim to strengthen an individual’s physical, mental, and immune status. The group also offers support with a range of diseases, dedicated locations for the rehabilitation of those addicted to alcohol and narcotics, and facilities for full medical checks.

At present it services are provided through the La Pradera International Health Centre, the Cira García Central Clinic, the International Centre of Neurologic Restoration (CIREN), and the Camilo Cienfuegos International Clinic. It works with the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine.

In May, CSM signed an agreement with the tourism related Cubanacán Group to promote health tourism on the island (Cuba Briefing 9 May 2022) at which time the group said that the development of medical tourism services was a priority for Cuba.

According to Dr Armando Garrido, the Director of Medicuba, since that time CSM has established several contracts with hotel companies in Havana, Varadero, and has plans for long stay health care at the Cienaga de Zapata National Park. He was quoted by Prensa Latina as saying that he anticipated that at FitSaludCuba “a group of actions will take shape [including] the signing of a significant number of contracts with international suppliers and letters of intent for new businesses.”

According to Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), Health for All will be attended by regional and international organisations including ECLAC, Unicef, the FAO and the Pan American Health Organisation, a part of the WHO.

Photo by Max Letek 

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