21 Jan Greece claiming its share in medical tourism market
Dr. Kostantinos Pantos, Chairman, Genesis Clinic Athens, breaks down the stages that led Greece to become a contender in this niche market
Tourism is Greece’s champion sector and one of the few industries that managed to continue growing, while the rest of the economy severely con- tracted during the crisis. How would you describe the evolution of Greece as a destination for specialized medical tourism?
Greece is a somewhat natural destination in that regard, thanks to its weather and general geographic positioning within the Mediterranean Sea. Greece is the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine: the man to whose name every doctor makes an oath. Consequently, it is natural that Greece can and should be a destination for medical tourism. There is a lot of good health services providers in various sectors, spearheaded by in vitro fertilization (IVF). In addition, we charge low prices in Greece, usually close to a fifth of what people would normally pay for IVF in the U.S. We recently ran an awareness campaign that was aimed toward the diaspora of Greeks abroad. It was not just a roadshow in advertising but a showcase of all the services that we can provide. Our goal is to inspire and raise awareness for the country. On the other hand, we have couples and people that have experienced our services with success creating news stories in the countries that they live in. Greece is a perfect destination, especially the islands, for people to come. At the moment, we have couples coming from 67 countries around the world.
Greece is especially well positioned to become a global hub for fertility treatments thanks to the relaxed legislative framework governing IVF. How are the laws in Greece more favorable than in other countries for couples seeking this type of treatment?
In many countries, donor eggs are not legally provided. As a result, all those couples have to travel abroad, with many of them coming eventually to Greece. We offer valuable services to women who seek to either freeze their eggs or use donor sperm, which is also not allowed in some countries. We have unknown donors here, while in other countries they have known donors. Many couples worldwide do not want to have access to the personal information of the donor, so they favor Greece in that regard. Successful stories with IVF in Greece have spread the word around and there are many people coming just for that.
“We are being flexible, treating each couple in their own unique way. We do not follow the same paths each time and we always try to differentiate our methods.”
Dr. Konstantinos Pantos, Chairman, Genesis Clinic Athens
Your field of work and research is quite inspirational, helping to build families and bring babies to life. How did you manage to build from the ground up what is today one of the leading IVF clinics in Europe?
We have always tried to do innovative work in the medical services that we provide. I think that our success is, on the one hand, due to innovation. We have developed a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment for older women. We are leaders in that regard. On the other hand, we have to attribute our success to our flexibility in thinking. We are being flexible, treating each couple in their own unique way and applying individual solutions to their problems. We do not follow the same paths each time and we always try to differentiate our methods. At the moment, we are focusing on what seems to be the most rapidly increasing proportion of infertile women, which is older women over 40 years old. Having pursued remarkable careers, after a certain age some women turn toward pregnancy, just to be shattered due to menopause. We are trying our best to treat these women, both medically and psychologically, helping them accept that the best solution available at that point is the usage of donor eggs. We would like to help them have a family in peace with their dreams as well as their nature. We can see the utility of our work with women coming to freeze their eggs. There is a way to prolong a woman’s fertility, but with the technology we have right now, it has to go through that route.
What are your aspirations for expanding your work, as well as your clinics, internationally?
Beside our cooperation with various universities in China, we have signed a cooperative agreement for the joint development of IVF services in that country. On another aspect, according to our deal, we will be spreading IVF services in China under the Greek branding of Genesis Clinics. China is recognizing our medical services and Greece is going to help open up more IVF centers across that country.