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Foreign medical tourists flock to Russia for low-cost treatment


The number of foreigners coming to Russia for medical treatment is growing exponentially, rising by 40 percent last year, according to Medsi, one of the biggest networks of private clinics in Russia.

“We have noticed a growing interest in Russian medicine from people living in CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries and outside it,” Alla Kanunnikova, marketing and commercial activities director at the clinic said. She added that Medsi centers handle nearly eight million medical cases a year – only five percent of which involve foreigners, but their numbers are on the rise.

Most patients come from China, and are mostly interested in in vitro fertilization (IVF) and orthopedics, according to a top manager of a Moscow medical center. Apart from the Chinese, people from Germany, Bulgaria and other countries are also seeking healthcare in Russia.

The number of foreign clients has made clinics open new departments and hire additional staff, including interpreters.

Medical travelers can add up to 13 billion rubles ($200 million) annually to Russia’s economy, according to official estimates. However, bureaucratic red tape and obstacles in getting visas impede the development of this sphere, Russian health officials have said.

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Medical tourism in Russia has been growing for several years. In 2017, some 110,000 foreigners received treatment in Russian medical centers, while in 2016 the figure stood at 86,000. That year, the number of foreigners arriving for treatment surged more than 50 percent, with most patients seeking dental procedures, reproductive medicine, orthopedics, and brain surgery.

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