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Medical tourism has become a booming sector in Turkey with 700,000 people visiting the country last year, head of Istanbul International Health Tourism Association (ISTUSAD) said.

“Many people come to Turkey due to the cost, quality, waiting period and facilities [in the healthcare sector],” Emre Ali Kodan told Anadolu Agency.

In 2008, Turkey hosted 75,000 visitors for medical tourism. The figure has increased tenfold in 10 years, he noted.

“We expect 850,000 visitors for medical tourism in 2018, [the figure] may approach a million.”

Turkey provides better quality treatment at lower costs when compared to Europe, the U.S. and other western countries. Some surgeries are 90 percent cheaper than other countries.

“The cost of angiography is $47,000 in the U.S., $13,000 in Singapore, $11,000 in India and $10,000 in Thailand, while $5,000 in Turkey,” Kodan said.

Similarly, the cardiac valve surgery is $150,000 in the U.S. and $17,000 in Turkey, he added.

He highlighted that in Turkey patients’ waiting time was a maximum of two weeks excluding transplantation, but this process could reach 18 months in western countries.

Visitors come to Turkey mostly from Europe, Russia, Turkic Republics and Gulf countries, and they usually choose Istanbul, Mediteranean resort city Antalya and the capital Ankara, Kodan said.

Turkey is preferred often for casualties, eye diseases, gynaecological diseases, maternity, paediatric and internal diseases departments by visitors, he underlined.

He also said Turkey was ranked third in medical tourism by International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ). The U.S. was the first and South Korea the second in the list, while Thailand was the fourth and Germany fifth.

Ahmet Demircan, former health minister of Turkey, has said the country will host two million visitors for health tourism and earn $20 billion by 2023.

Reporting by Ugur Aslanhan:Writing by Gokhan Ergocun