Health Tourism


Beside the beautiful landscape, historical sites and the religious shrines that attract millions of tourists to Iran each year, Iran is an example of a country that has made considerable advances through education and training, despite international sanctions in almost all aspects of research during the past 30 years. The country’s scientific progress is reported to be the fastest in the world and medical system is one of the sciences.


History of Medicine in Iran


The practice and study of medicine in Persia has a long and prolific history. The ancient Iranian medicine was combined by different medical traditions from Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China and Greece for more than 4000 years and merged to form what became the nucleus and foundation of medical practice in the European countries in the 13th century. The Iranian academic centers like Jundishapur University (3rd century AD) were a breeding ground for the union among great scientists from different civilizations. These centers successfully followed their predecessors, theories and greatly extended their scientific research through history. Iranian physicians during the glorious Islamic civilization had a tremendous share in the progress of medical sciences. The excellent clinical observations and physical examinations and writings of Iranian scientists such as Rhazes (Al-Razi, 865-925 AD), Haly Abbas (Ali ibn-al Abbas-al Majusi, died 994 AD), Avicenna (Abou Ali Sina, 980-1037) and Jurjan (Osmail ibn al-Husayn al-Jurjani, 110 AD) influenced all fields of medicine The new era of medicine in Iran begins with establishment of Dar-ul-funoon in 1851, which was the only center for modern medical education before the establishment of Tehran University. Following the establishment of the Tehran university school of medicine in 1934 and the return of Iranian graduates from the medical schools in Europe, much progress was made in the development and availability of trained manpower and specialized faculties in medicine. After the Islamic revolution by the growing spirit of independence inspired by the Iranian government the number of medical schools and medical students increased more than 10 times. For the 1st time in recent modern history the Iranian medical universities started to offer post-graduate specialized degrees in basic, clinical and engineering sciences.

The celebrated Iranian physician and philosopher, Abu Ali Sina (Avicenna, 980-1037), wrote 100 books in many subjects including his most famous compendium, Canon of Medicine. His magnum opus is one of the classics of medicine ever written. He extensively studied herbal medicine from China, India and Persia. Avicenna like his predecessor Farabi (another well known Iranian) was an outspoken empiricist and insisted that all theories must be confirmed by experience.

Like their Greek predecessors, the new genre of physicians produced Encyclopedias of medical knowledge based on observation and experience. The main topics included anatomy, classification and causation of diseases, symptoms and diagnosis. Urine, sputum, saliva and pulse were observed and used to aid diagnosis. External or visible manifestations of diseases and internal symptoms like fever, headache etc were listed and studied. Therapy with drugs and herbs were used to improve the patient conditions. Female practitioners and nurses that existed before Islam remained for a while but soon lost their position and only midwives continued and most had no proper training .

The second half of the 19th century is the beginning of major political and ideological transformations in Iran and the start of modernization processes.. The first modern school Dar ul Fonoun (the Institute of technology) started work in 1851 with a few European instructors and texts were translated from a number of European languages to introduce Iranian pupils to modern sciences. In 1925, there were only 253 general practitioners who were trained in Dar-ul-Funoon college of medicine and 652 Hakims who had gained experience of medicine, and were practicing throughout the country. The modernization movement resulted in the constitutional revolution (1906). Iranian students were sent to Europe with government sponsorship and the first modern doctors were educated in Europe. For the first time since Sassanian period a major University with different faculties was built. In 1934 a new legislation was passed and a budget was allocated to build the first University in Tehran. The medical School at Tehran was the first faculty and soon more modern universities followed in other parts of the country. In 1936 for the first time 12 women were admitted into Tehran University. They entered all faculties, included was Dr. Frough Kia who later joined the faculty of medicine. The medical schools were built on European models and staffed with qualified educated practitioners and physicians. Nursing schools were followed and new modern hospitals built throughout the country. In the 1970s foreign doctors were employed mainly from India and were sent into rural clinics. The medical schools at the major universities enjoyed a high standard and graduates of these universities had no problems continuing postgraduate studies in any of the major medical schools in Europe or North America .

After the Islamic revolution and establishment of Islamic Republic of Iran by late Imam Khomeini in 1979, the population of Iran had nearly doubled in less than 2 decades, while by the growing spirit of independence inspired by the Iranian government the number of universities and university students increased more than 10 times. For the first time in recent modern history, the Iranian universities started to offer post-graduate specialized degrees in basic, clinical and engineering sciences. All the foreign doctors and medics in rural clinics were replaced by young Iranian medical graduates. More than 800 Ph. D. degrees have been awarded in basic sciences only in the past 10 years (19). Despite the great difficulties that the Iranian scientists have been facing for more than 28 years (as a consequence of a social revolution, 8 years of a destructive war imposed by Iraq, excessive brain drain, discriminatory practices by some international journals in publishing the Iranian articles, and unfair sanctions imposed by the industrialized countries), Irans science is still thriving and the current number of yearly scientific publications exceeds 2000 (19). When normalized with respect to the number of researchers and the research budget, the Iranian scientists seem to outperform most of their counterparts in the advanced industrialized nations. The main reasons for this are: total engagement in truncated research activities (basic or applied) leading solely to pure publications and the lack of infrastructure for developmental research activities leading to new technologies. The average impact factor of the papers in various fields of basic sciences seems quite satisfactory, considering the difficult conditions the Iranian scientists are working under. Should the research budgets and conditions improve and the unfair sanctions currently imposed by the world politics be eliminated, a far better contribution to the world science can be expected.


Current Medicine Science in Iran 


Nowadays, with over 400 medical research facilities and 76 medical magazine indexes available in the country, Iran is the 19th country in medical research and is set to become the 10th within 10 years.  Clinical sciences are invested in highly in Iran. In areas such as rheumatology, hematology, and bone marrow transplantation, Iranian medical scientists publish regularly.  The Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Research Center (HORC) of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Shariati Hospital was established in 1991. Internationally, this center is one of the largest bone marrow transplantation centers and has carried out a large number of successful transplantation.


Wellness Attractions in Iran


Moreover, Iran is renowned for their hot springs and traditional medicines. Sirch (Kerman), Sar’eyn (Ardabil) and Geno (Bandar Abbas) are notable hot springs in Iran.


Why Iran?


Iran seems to be an ideal destination for health tourism. Affordability is another key factor bringing patients to Iran. Patients can undergo treatment, recover and enjoy a holiday in Iran for much less than what it would cost them for treatment in other countries. The medical service in Iran is cheap while the healthcare establishments are well equipped and professional. Currently 30,000 foreign patients who are most from the neighbor countries come to Iran to receive medical treatments. Medical Tourism in Iran has been patronized by tourists looking for critical medical treatment as well as by people in need of cosmetic and preventative care.

And let’s not forget the Iranian legendary hospitality. This hospitality is not only about dinner tables and the various dishes presented on them for the guests but it is a culture of the society which exists in Iranian medical establishment and  practised by doctors and the staff of hospitals and medical groups. They ensure the highest level of professionalism, safety and care to patients.