Unrealized Potential in Medical Tourism – Manila Bulletin



Senator Sonny Angara

Filipino healthcare professionals have long been recognized for their abilities and professionalism, as well as the exceptional quality of care they provide to their patients. Whenever I travel overseas, be it to the UK, USA or another jurisdiction that employs a significant number of Filipino healthcare workers, the feedback I receive is always about their competence and dedication to their work.

Juergen Steinmetz, President of the World Tourism Network, experienced firsthand what it was like to receive medical treatment here in the Philippines. Last April, Steinmetz was in Manila as a delegate for the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit. During his visit, he contracted a rare skin disease and sought treatment at Makati Medical Center. He described his ordeal as life changing and had nothing but praise for the doctors who correctly diagnosed his condition and for the medical establishment which he said was “beyond any standard that I I’ve seen them all over the world, including my home state of Hawaii. ”
With hospitals operating using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities with medical staff who speak perfect English and with a human touch, Steinmetz was surprised why medical tourism is still not so important. in the Phillippines.

The same question has also crossed my mind many times, especially about how we are missing out in terms of medical tourism opportunities. I firmly believe that Filipino doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are among the best in the world. Patients suffering from all kinds of diseases can benefit from the best treatments and at a relatively lower cost than that charged by similar establishments outside the country.

In the 2020 Medical Tourism Index, the Philippines ranked 24th out of 46 countries partly due to failure to market the country as a top destination and lack of some key facilities and infrastructure. Globally, the medical tourism market size was estimated at $11.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $53 billion by 2028.

According to the Medical Tourism Association, approximately 14 million people travel outside their country for medical care every year. Research suggests that the global anti-aging market alone is already valued at $60.42 billion in 2021. This growth is expected to double by 2030.

A report by McKinsey and Company also indicated that 40% of people travel outside their country for healthcare due to the availability of advanced technology and highly skilled professionals. For some patients, the cost of their procedures in the host country is less than what their home country charges. In many cases, they don’t have to wait long to get the treatment they need.

One of the fastest growing segments of medical tourism is cosmetic treatment, a specialized area that includes body fat reduction, skin rejuvenation, anti-aging and other procedures that people use to enhance their appearance, self-esteem and self-confidence. I recently spoke at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Philippine Academy of Aesthetic Medicine and Age Management Inc., and learned about the wide range of specializations of its member physicians. They include aesthetic and clinical dermatology, age management and regenerative medicine, plastic and aesthetic surgery, multi-specialty physicians well versed in genetics, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, ophthalmology, family and internal medicine, anesthesiology, pathology and geriatrics. .

There is therefore no shortage of experts available in the country for medical tourists. Whatever treatment or procedure they want, they can find it here and be sure they will receive top-notch service and hospitality. What makes the Philippines even more attractive as a medical tourism destination is its long list of tourist destinations that patients can explore and enjoy after undergoing their procedures.

We still have many steps to take before we can compete with our neighbors such as Thailand, South Korea and Singapore who are already reaping the benefits of their growing medical tourism industry. We need to do more to improve the marketing of the Philippines as a medical tourism destination. We should strengthen our infrastructure. We must pursue this opportunity in a concerted way, as part of our efforts to revive our struggling tourism industry.

E-mail: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @sonnyangara

(Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 18 years – nine years as a representative for Aurora District alone and nine as a senator. He has authored, co-authored and sponsored more than 330 pieces of legislation. currently in his second term in the Senate.)




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