COMMENTARY: A blueprint for health/medical tourism in Dominica

Today a growing number of patients with deep pockets from affluent countries are searching for destinations with alternative forms of medical and health treatments to further extent their stay on this earth. Dominica is uniquely qualified to capitalize on this booming niche market of health tourism.

But to achieve this long term and sustainable development goal, the Nature Isle must be marketed as a health tourism destination. The unique attractiveness of our environment can lure health tourists from all over the globe who are seeking alternative and holistic health treatment. Also, a massive local education campaign should be waged to impress upon all Dominicans that we do have resources that rich international people envy.

Of course, the full development of this niche market is certainly not going to come easy and fast. With proper, long term, focus planning, collaboration, commitment, political will and strong effective (less myopic) leadership, the goals will have far greater chances of succeeding.

It is imperative that the government (of the day) works closely with the hotel, non-profit (NGOs) business, medical communities, and other groups to devise a carefully planned long-term strategic plan of action. Health tourism is not very different than beach, eco or traditional tourism.

The various government ministries, departments and NGOs including law enforcement, village councils, conservationists and others will have to be a vital part in the planning aspect of this segment of the industry.

But Health Tourism  is a bit different from the other forms of tourism due to the fact that it is a form of telemedicine and like conventional medicine, there are in inherent ethical rules, codes of conduct and practice guidelines and patterns.

The medical community and the ministries of health, agriculture and the Division of Forestry and others should explore and continue to investigate the medicinal values of our natural resources such as the Sulphur Springs, Boiling Lake, hot springs, waterfalls and tropical rain forests.

The holistic healing powers of plants and herbs such as ‘bazalick,’ ‘seimeicountrar, (teas)’ ‘tabac zobie’ (jumbie’s tobacco) and others should be continuously promoted. Even the relaxing traditional Jing-Ping music should be promoted as a healing dance like the classical music of great composers like Mozart and Beethoven.

This use of natural plants, herbs and other forms of healing will only get bigger as people continue to seek more alternative and less invasive treatment modalities to cure their illnesses.

A few years ago, the WHO began a long-term project of formally chronicling the medicinal and healing values of plants and herbs in most traditional cultures that have proven to have high healing rates for a variety of illnesses over the centuries.

While along these waterways and in the interior and rain forests, members of the medical and local communities will be responsible for the conventional and unconventional medical treatments which patients receive.

Of course, the local medical doctors and health care workers will have to communicate with the patient’s doctors back in their home countries. This can easily be accomplished in real time via Face time (cell) telephone, satellite and/or Internet based.

Government can use its foreign missions and official representatives elsewhere to help market the health tourism plan. Dominican expatriates with business, marketing, medical, professional backgrounds, and others can work closely with these missions to arrange speaking engagements at rotary clubs, conventions, banquets, and at other high profile and visible functions abroad to lobby and advertise the project.

Where is the startup capital for this project coming from? This writer suggests that grants from the European Union (EU) and other international donor organizations should be requested for a pilot study to jump-start this venture. The grant proposal should clearly outline that the project as a true government, private-public-non-governmental organization (NGO) partnership.

International donors and philanthropic organizations are more comfortable when governments partner with organizations for developmental projects. These donors hold the view that when there is true collaboration a higher level of oversight and accountability. The best, brightest, and most committed and qualified citizens (not necessarily political appointees), play key leadership roles in developmental projects assuring its success.

Nothing is more therapeutic and appealing to a person with failing health and high stress than finding an effective and efficient way to reverse that trend and maximize on their health and longevity. Nothing could be more appealing than viewing a beautiful late afternoon sunset at Calibishe bay while quenching one’s thirst from a bottle of pure fresh Dominican mountain water.

Nothing is more healing to a cancer patient than bathing in the early morning mineral rich La Riviere Blanc (White River), viewing the early morning sunrise at Point Mulatre bay amidst the gentle blowing northeast trade winds. Or sipping from a glass of merlot or a warm cup of ‘seimeicountrar ‘ tea in the early morning aroma of the Sulphur Springs or standing on the edge of a waterfall or hot spring.

That can only mean plane loads of deep pocket passages returning to Dominica with money to spend as they seek that magic cure. If modest measurable financial and international publicity goals of health tourism can be achieved in a decade or less, it will certainly mean more money for our people and sustainable development for the economy of our island home.

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20 Comments

  1. make it make sense
    April 26, 2022

    Oh so we promoting alternative medicine now? I thought was forbidden since the pandemic.

  2. More detail please
    April 26, 2022

    Building a health and wellness industry in Dominica is certainly a good idea. But it remains an elusive idea unless a comprehensive plan can be developed showing how all critical areas of the economy will support the sector over the long term. No country plans to be competitive in a day or even in a year. It takes decades before the fruits can be harvested..Furthermore, such an industry as that being proposed certainly can’t be based on serving bush teas and watching the sunset. Dominica is already offering these amenities through the many hardworking people on island. As a health professional and an entrepreneur, can you provide your readers on DNO with a detailed plan showing how the health sector should be built up over a 20 year period to eventually give Dominica a competitive advantage in the proposed sector in the future?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • Finn
      April 26, 2022

      @More detail please:

      Do you want a 100 pages 5-10 year plan on DNO? I suppose you are kidding…… This was just an appetizer More’. Plus, these plans are not created in a silo or vacuum space- it takes all stakeholders if it ever has a chance of being sustainable or/and successful and this takes time, effort and collaborative partnerships.

      But thanks for your contribution to this discussion- and yes we can agree to disagree and in fact, I encourage it. All ideas must and should contend. Democracy and not Demo-Crazy is a work here !!!!

      • More detail please
        April 27, 2022

        Thank you for responding @Finn. Not saying you need a 100 page plan, but a detailed plan for the next least 5 – 10 years would be necessary to back up your idea. As others have pointed out on this forum, the idea is not novel. It has already been considered and some groundwork done, but I believe there is a lot more to be done. One suggestion might be to start with a pilot program, perhaps in your own village of LaPlaine, which has a lot to offer. It would be interested to see a detailed model plan for such a pilot project at the village level, which could then be scaled across the island –if such an approach is even feasible.

  3. Keep Awake
    April 25, 2022

    ‘A few years ago, the WHO began a long-term project of formally chronicling the medicinal and healing values of plants and herbs in most traditional cultures that have proven to have high healing rates for a variety of illnesses over the centuries.’
    Once The WHO has anything to do with this, it’s game over!! Devils in disguise.

  4. Mc Carthy MARIE
    April 25, 2022

    Actually, the study on Medical Tourism exists. Dr. Finn should ask DDA for a copy so he can read up on what it says.

  5. April 25, 2022

    this is a great idea that people actually want to live longer but god is the one who chooses no matter what cure you have.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8
  6. Luca
    April 25, 2022

    Health and wellness begins at home, not with tourism. Standards most be improved, affordability must be for all Dominicans. There is much more to be done for the people of this country before anyone starts creating yet another nonsensical tourism strategy.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3
    • Ibo France
      April 25, 2022

      The new tourism strategy is not nonsensical at all. It’s something worthy to be explored.

      The problem is this. The present shameless administration is incapable of implemented anything right. They are not only a colossal failure but a total one also. This is just more talk, as usual, to grab headlines on their favourite media outlets. That’s all to this proposal.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
      • Wilson
        April 25, 2022

        Anyone who thinks people will come to Dominica primarily for health reasons has completely lost the plot and should go out and buy a world atlas.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
        • fr
          April 25, 2022

          Did you actually read the article? Go and read again, hope you did not miss comprehension 101

      • Finn
        April 25, 2022

        @Ibo,
        So these are plans are for the future and maybe the present. You will notice that I said the ‘government of the day’. I agree that systems must be improved or completely revamp in Dominica health wise before we can think of this venture or any future ventures along these lines. But the question Ibo is with proper government , governance, policies and the right people in the right places we can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can fix our system and look toward ventures like this.

        I looked at a few systems in Israel and other places and I think we can. But I will admit and agree with you and others on this board- not with the current decompensation and folks in high places we have today- but I was looking past this.

        Thanks

        Emanuel Finn

        • Ibo France
          April 25, 2022

          I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. I have suggested that in Dominica emphasis should be placed on developing health tourism, sports tourism and eco-tourism industries.You have it ‘down-packed’.

          This current oligarchy is incapable of executing any visionary, developmental plans. Any administration that only speaks to itself and governs by exclusion and deception are usually underdeveloped. Dominica is a perfect example of this.

  7. TT
    April 25, 2022

    Fantasizing is one thing. Let’s start with making Healthcare available for Dominicans do they don’t have to fly to our neighbors.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2
    • Zandoli
      April 25, 2022

      I was thinking the same thing. As soon as a government minister has a runny noise, he gets on a plane and flies to Martinique for treatment. How do you expect these guys to promote the island as a health tourism destination.

      From what I know about health tourism, the people who travel to foreign countries for treatment, do so for cost reasons. They want similar treatment as traditional western medicine but at a lower cost. They are not interested in drinking bush tea.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
      • Ibo France
        April 25, 2022

        The idea is excellent but the chances of it coming to fruition is minus zero (-0). As I’ve said previously, it is mere propaganda for public consumption. That’s it!

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
        • Zandoli
          April 25, 2022

          IBO, what is the numerical difference between -0, 0 and +0? :-D :-D

          Just kixing, but I got your point.

          • Ibo France
            April 25, 2022

            Zandoli, check your thermometer! Ensure you ask ds for copyrights permission first. He said he is a walking thermometer wth the number of degrees he has. ( Just some levity)

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
      • A. Patriot
        April 25, 2022

        Believe it or not I have met people, in the US, who have been to Dominica and drank the bush tea and they were excited to talk about it and recommend it to others. Today’s travelers are for more that laying on the beach and drinking pina coladas, they want what Dominica has to offer.

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