As the loyal readers of this magazine are well aware, when you say ‘Alicante’ you are also referring to sun and beaches, festivities, ‘joie de vivre’, hospitality, beautiful landscapes, and a wide range of places where to stay, from hotels and country homes to houses intended for lodging tourists. In 2017, 6.3 million visitors to our province enjoyed this combination. But if you are a foreigner, Alicante is also an excellent destination if you intend to leave your country of origin to undergo a treatment for your health. We invite you to discover this in detail hereafter, starting with what Spain in general might have to offer. 

According to a study by the World Health Organisation on the general performance of health systems in 191 countries in the world, Spain is ranked no less than seventh as far as the level of the care received is concerned. Spain is a leader in terms of robotic surgery (46 Da Vinci robots had been installed across the country at the end of the first term of 2018, including 2 in the Valencian Community) and offers great comfort after surgery. Those who intend to visit a private hospital also stand to gain from the excellent value for money, both as far as where specialities of a medium to a high degree of complexity are concerned as regarding complete treatments.

According to a US Medical Corporation report, when compared with other countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom or France, the same treatment may cost you between 30 and 70% less. Keith Pollard, who organised the 2016 World Health Tourism Summit, highlighted in an exposé in Finanzas that a hip replacement in Spain costs 12.832€ on average, compared to 14.000€ in the United Kingdom or up to 50.000€ in the United States.

Spain also has a very permissive legal system that confers a high degree of legal protection to both national and foreign patients. The 2006 assisted reproduction law, the result of the efforts of minister Elena Salgado, is a particularly prominent example. It grants totally anonymous sperm donations to any woman who might request them, independently of whether s/he has a partner or is looking to get one. Those who wish to come to Spain dreaming of family expansion can also count on one of the world’s highest success rates for this type of intervention. But Spain is also an excellent destination for those who might have aesthetic concerns, since it is the fourth country in the world with the highest number of plastic and cosmetic surgery procedures performed after the US, Brazil, and Venezuela.

Apart from assisted reproduction and aesthetic surgery, Spain scores highly in cardiology, oncology, urology, traumatology, ophthalmology, dentistry, and physical therapy. And lastly, as we will describe in more detail later in this article, if what you are looking for is not a reactive, but a preventive and even a proactive treatment, both for your body and your mind, there is no shortage of possibilities for getting those either. 

As a destination for your health, Alicante combines all those charms we have just mentioned, and more. Consider, for example, its accessibility as far as transport is concerned. Its airport, El Altet, or officially the Alicante-Elche Airport, is Spain’s fifth in terms of the volume of passengers. It was completely renewed by the opening of a new terminal in 2011 and has about a 100 international connections. Valencia Airport should not be underestimated either, with close to 7 million passengers in 2018, and the one in Murcia also brings you within easy reach of the province’s health centres.  

Alicante has a long tradition of receiving and hosting foreign visitors and residents, and this respect for diversity facilitates personalised customer care, including helping people in their own language. Among its gastronomic diversity, as we already described in a previous issue of this magazine, we can highlight its own variant of the Mediterranean diet, including first rate garden fruit and vegetables, and a wide variety of seafood and shellfish dishes, with a high protein, vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids content. 

One should also not underestimate the Mediterranean climate. It is well known that an abundance of light exercises a positive influence on our state of mind. Alicante has both a high amount of days of sunshine a year and pleasant temperatures to facilitate your recovery after surgery and rehabilitation. If that were not enough, there is also a wide range of complementary activities for both patients and the people accompanying them to pursue, including the possibility of playing a large variety of sports and of enjoying 134 different beaches, 27 of which have been adapted for people with reduced mobility.

But obviously the province’s biggest strength lies in the high quality of its health centres, many of which have received international prizes. The Quirón Hospital in Torrevieja, for example, earned the Best International Hospital Award at the 2017 International Medical Journal Medical Travel Awards. But it is not the only one that complies with the most demanding international standards: the IMED group, with clinics in Elche, Torrevieja, Teulada, and Benidorm (and outside the province, in Valencia), is also a genuine reference in this sense. Or the centres of the Mediterranean Healthcare network, all of which are ISO-accredited and closely cooperate with insurance companies from all over of the world. 

On top of this, the province of Alicante is home to an authentic cluster or collaboration network between institutions, organisations and companies from the health sector to attend patients’ needs. It encompasses, among others, pharmacies, medical practices, cancer treatment centres, dentists, stomach specialists, insurance companies, clinics with a single and with multiple specialties… distributed across the Marina Baja and the Marina Alta areas and different towns such as Orihuela, Sant Vicent del Raspeig, San Juan, Elda, Calpe, or the city of Alicante itself. The search engine on the website allows you to find the centre best suited to your needs, allowing you to search in Spanish, English, French, Russian and German and filter the results according to the medical specialty, geographical proximity, language of attention to the patient, or the location of your concern. 

As you will find out when visiting this site, if you are convinced of the importance of a holistic focus and you are looking to feel better in both body and mind, and even in spirit, Alicante is also waiting for you with open arms, through its large number of wellness centres. We already previously alluded to the need of a balance between mental and physical health, and the wellness philosophy departs precisely from the acknowledgement of its importance.

Because of this, these centres have been established in special surroundings dedicated to care, where everything has been conceived to help you get rid of your daily concerns and to recharge your internal batteries. They offer solutions for every budget and for all your needs, including the possibility of combining treatments to obtain better results and attack several problems simultaneously over a shot period of time. Spas and resorts are looking forward to pampering you with a very diverse offer that includes both different forms of therapy and thermal baths, nutritionists’ advice, massages and all kinds of beauty treatments. You will find them in different locations across Alicante: in Alfaz del Pi, Albir, Benidorm, Denia, Calpe, Algorfa, Mutxamel, San Juan, Torrevieja, Altea, Jávea, or the capital of the province itself, of course. 

The advantages for your health are obvious: they facilitate the purification of toxins, the blood flow, a deeper and quality sleep, muscle and tendon relaxation, weight loss… And for those who fear others’ opinions: to undergo a beauty treatment need not be a sign of vanity. The skin, for example, is the biggest organ in the human body, its protective barrier against infections and diseases, a barometer of our aging process and our health in general. It is therefore anything but far-fetched to want to ensure it receives the best possible care. 

Is your health already asking you to go on a trip to Alicante? Before you leave home, as for any trip, plan your itinerary properly, and especially if you come from outside the European Union, inform yourself well on the entry requirements to Spain. Prepare your entire medical history if necessary, including possible translations and the contact details of your doctor back home, and check for her/his availability during your intended travel dates. Consider what your transport, room and boarding needs will be, including after surgery, and investigate what services the centre might provide: pickup and transfers to and from the airport, translation and interpreting services, digital medical histories, payment methods and financial planning… When applicable, also check whether your insurance policy or health fund is going to cover your stay, and up to what point, possible deductibles and exclusions included. And of course, ask if you can get to know the doctors and medical staff that are going to be treating you in advance. Alicante, and your improved health, are waiting for you!

By A. Conrad