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    Medical tourism brings in $300 M in revenues in 2 years – DOH

    By Sheila Crisostomo

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008
    The Philippine Star Online


    Medical tourism has brought in some $300 million in revenues since it was launched two years ago, an official of the Department of Health (DOH) said recently.

    DOH Undersecretary Jade del Mundo said the revenues were from some 200,000 patients who came to the Philippines since 2006 for their medical and wellness needs.

    “That included foreign patients, expatriates or those working for different corporations who already live here in the Philippines and Filipinos based abroad. If they are holding foreign passports, they are included in the list,” Del Mundo said in an interview.

    The DOH and the Department of Tourism have launched “Philippine Medical Tourism (PMT)” to promote the country as a destination for those in need of medical attention and wellness care.

    The official website of the PMT defines medical tourists as those who are “generally residents of the industrialized nations of the world (and) the countries where they travel are typically the less developed ones with favorable currency exchange ratios.”

    “More and more people from all over the world are traveling to other countries not only as tourists who come for sightseeing and shopping but also to get medical, dental, and surgical services from hospitals and other health destinations,” the website said.

    Medical tourism is a rapidly growing industry in countries like Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, South Africa and Thailand.

    Del Mundo added that the Philippines has 35 participating hospitals and stand-alone surgical facilities that accept medical tourists.

    “Usually they come here for eye surgery, refractive eye laser surgery, cataract surgery, dental prosthesis, dental implant, cosmetic dental procedures, cardiovascular, coronary artery bypass procedure, dermatology, cosmetic and plastic surgery,” he said.

    But Del Mundo said they observed that bariatic surgery is “becoming popular” among medical tourists in the country. This procedure, also known as weight loss surgery, pertains to the modification of the gastrointestinal tract to reduce nutrients intake or absorption.

    Under the PMT project, the DOH has some private offices or “integrators” in some parts of the world that facilitate the travel of medical tourists here. Most of the patients come from the United States, Guam, South African countries, Canada, South Korea, China and Japan.

    The DOH also has a tie-up with some hospitals in those countries, facilitating the transfer of patients.

    “We also have two hospitals in Europe – one is in Paris and one is in Czechoslovakia,” Del Mundo said.

    The DOH will soon come up with a comprehensive guidebook on medical tourism to further promote the country as a destination for medical tourists.

    Del Mundo added that the DOH is confident the project would meet its $1-billion target by 2012




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