Mauritius has seen a fast growth over the past few years when it comes to the healthcare sector. Good air links, a broad spectrum of healthcare services and the country’s strategic location has attracted foreign patients seeking treatment.

“Neighbouring islands do not have a sophisticated healthcare sector. Nearly half of the foreign patients visiting the island in the past years originated from the Indian Ocean islands, namely Madagascar, Reunion Island, Seychelles and Comoros,” said Ken Poonoosamy, managing director of the Board of Investment Mauritius. He added that European countries, including France and the UK, account for more than 20% of the arrivals, while the remainder consisted of patients from India, South Africa, the Middle East and other countries.

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The country’s competitive advantages also include VAT exemption on medical, surgical and dental equipment, as well as on construction materials for buildings built for the provision of health services, provided that the company is registered with the Board of Investment Mauritius.

However, Mauritius has to compete with some Indian Ocean rim countries in providing high-quality health care services in order to attract medical tourists. Countries such as Singapore, India, Malaysia and Thailand are renowned in niche areas, which further enhance their status as medical hubs.

“For Mauritius to compete with these destinations a key requirement is the introduction of a medical visa to allow foreign patients to follow treatment inclusive of the required recovery and healing period. On the other hand, better air connectivity with mainland Africa would allow for accelerated development of medical tourism. Furthermore, the offering of cost-competitive packages, including hotels, return fare and medical treatment would allow Mauritius to attract cost-conscious foreign patients,” said Mr Poonoosamy.

According to Mr Poonoosamy, the country has received an average of $18m in FDI between 2008 and 2012, while the first quarter of 2014 alone witnessed $14.6m of investment. He added that these figures do not include investment in medical biotechnology and the manufacturing of medical devices.