Hospitals could appeal to medical tourism

  • 2005-08-31
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - The Pauls Stradins University Hospital could soon begin courting foreigners with cheap medical care, said Health Minister Gundars Berzins.

Stradins is the largest hospital in Riga, and already has a highly trained staff. The only thing lacking is capital investment needed for new medical equipment, officials said.

"In Europe, the flow of patients among member states is rather free, and here (at Stradins hospital) they have high-level specialists," Berzins told the Baltic News Agency. "If we offered specialists, medical treatment and services of this level to residents of other countries - only for slightly lower prices - it would be an opportunity to earn."

Cardiology was one area Berzins said the clinic specialized in, and was eager to offer its professional services. The minister added that the price for medical treatment would be lower in Latvia than in many Western European Countries. Berzins mentioned negotiations with German insurers, although he declined to elaborate.

The hospital recently began construction of a new emergency medical center with the help of co-financing from the European Regional Development Fund. Of the 1.1 million lats (1.56 million euros) needed to build the center, over 900,000 came from the European fund.

However, the number of foreigners treated at the Stradins hospital has been minimal - around 300 last year. Maris Palvins, the hospital's director, said that while some foreigners had come to Latvia for dental care and plastic surgery, as of now, few come for other medical services.

Ambitious plans are on the horizon with new machinery scheduled for purchase, and new facilities that are planned for construction. The new facility will reportedly cost 30 million lats to build.