The country’s and city’s medical trajectory –represented in its practice, knowledge, and research–have positioned Medellín as a world reference in medical sciences and, as a result, it is today an outstanding tourist destination in this field. In the 1960s, thanks to the Colombian Salomón Hakim, the treatment of a strange neurological disease called normal pressure hydrocephalus, or Hakim-Adams syndrome, was perfected. Years later, in 1985, the first heart transplant in Colombia was performed in Medellín. Subsequently, in 2017, the first two intramedullary lengthening devices were applied also in Medellín.
In addition to the above, Medellín has a special vocation for medical meetings, congresses, and conventions and stands out nationally and internationally for being at the scientific, technical, and logistical forefront to host them. Its other attributes –that include culture, transformation, nature, and gastronomy, combined with sustainability, science, technology, and innovation– make it an exceptional tourist destination.
According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), after technology-related events, the medical sciences segment is the most prominent in the city, with a total of 19 meetings held between 2016 and 2019.
Besides having appropriate venues or facilities, cities hosting events related to health sciences must establish quality scientific programs hand in hand with medical associations or organizations, guarantee accessibility for participants, and meet all the necessary requirements to carry out the planned activities. This, and more, is what Medellín has focused on in recent years, becoming an important venue for medical tourism.
Julián Arbeláez, manager of Salud Sin Fronteras—company that promotes abroad the city’s most advanced clinics and hospitals—explains that Medellín is internationally recognized for its medical events because “its wide experience, the quality of its service providers, and the excellence of its specialists put it on a par with developed countries such as the United States and some EU nations. This has been achieved thanks to its quality and state-of-the-art processes and equipment, along with its efforts in research and education, in which the best medical schools in Colombia stand out.”
Other noteworthy reasons for holding this kind of events in Medellín are the novelty of its medical agendas, as well as the logistical allies that transform health sciences events into scientific and tourism experiences. All the attractions and experiences that the city and the region offer to its visitors are also remarkable: “Medellín has strongly consolidated in this area and this positions us as an ideal city for medical events,” adds Julián Arbeláez.
It is worth mentioning some of the international events in this segment that chose Medellín as their venue. In 2019, for example, the city hosted the Ibero-American Congress on Clinical and Health Psychology, the X Latin American Congress on Veterinary Ophthalmology, and the AAGL Global Endometriosis Summit; and, in 2018, the Latin American Congress on Neuroanesthesia, Neurocritical Care, and Neuroscience Disciplines.
In addition to medical events, Medellín is an important national, continental, and world destination for health tourism. It stands out in many medical specialties, being cardiology, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, transplants, and plastic and cosmetic procedures the most important.
“Medellín is a powerful health destination because of its leading technological and academic position at the national level. Its schools, renowned in Latin America, place it on the podium of medical education—a strong incentive for health tourists. Even students and professors from important universities around the world come to improve their knowledge. Furthermore, the city has a one-of-a-kind human talent willing to put all its knowledge at the service of patients,” says Dr. Richard Baquero Rodríguez, a pediatric nephrologist at San Vicente Fundación Hospital.
In order to be an outstanding medical tourism destination, the city must have a network of allies that assist patients before, during, and after their interventions or medical procedures. Medellín has strengthened these processes through alliances and agreements between clinics and hospitals, hotels, transport companies, and other actors that can intervene to offer visitors a comfortable and peaceful stay that ensures the success of their treatments.
Medellín is currently channeling its efforts into rising to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in order to continue consolidating itself as an ideal medical destination for meetings, events, and congresses, as well as receiving tourists who seek medical treatments and procedures.
According to Sofía Aristizábal, manager of Comunicaciones Efectivas—a logistics operator with extensive experience in the organization of events for the health sector—strategies haven been developed to “gain the confidence to hold events and meetings that ensure the safety of all participants and thus reactivate many collateral sectors.”
An example of the above is the IX Congress on Pediatric Nephrology held from May 26 to 29 by the Colombian Association of Pediatric Nephrology (abbreviated ACONEPE in Spanish). This hybrid event was attended by about 90 on-site and 300 virtual participants: “This has been the only hybrid event on pediatrics held to date; it received the best face-to-face and virtual evaluations, which demonstrates that it is possible to hold these meetings in the context of the city’s economic reactivation,” says Dr. Baquero, former president of this association. After the event, the Latin American Association of Pediatric Nephrology expressed its desire to replicate the successful methodology and organization in its next Latin American event to be held in October 2021: “With this congress, we encouraged other academic groups and we became a model in terms of event organization at a continental level, in the context of the pandemic,” adds Dr. Baquero.
Because of its trajectory and advances in science, technology, and innovation, in addition to its installed capacity and the national and international recognition in medical and scientific matters, Medellín is the perfect host of health events, congresses, and meetings. To learn more about this destination or if you need further information, please visit www.bureaumedellin.com/eventos or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and discover the reasons to choose Medellín: a destination of medical excellence.