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RP aggressively promoting medical tourism abroad PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 August 2007

MANILA - The government and the private sector are embarking on massive marketing promotions of the Philippine medical tourism abroad for the industry to achieve the $ 1-billion (P45 billion) revenue target for the next five to 10 years.

Health Undersecretary Jade del Mundo, head of the Medical Tourism Program, said that aside from traditional markets, they are exploring new markets in Europe and the United States.

"This coming September, I would be speaking in a convention in Berlin on medical tourism that I would be marketing. Hopefully, this would be the start of our European leg of marketing promotions," he said.

Traditional markets for the Philippine medical tourism include the Pacific Island countries like Guam, Saipan , Marshall Islands and Hawaii, and even balikbayans from mainland USA and Canada and Middle East as well.

He said a group went to the US for a medical tourism roadshow in California, New Mexico and New York last May to promote the country’s medical tourism there, particularly to companies which have their own private insurances for their employees.

Del Mundo said they marketed the Philippine medical tourism program there to the agencies that send patients to hospitals in Southeast Asian countries mainly to Thailand , Malaysia, Singapore and India. These countries are the Philippines’ closest competitors in the medical tourism field.

“The team talked to insurance companies and to the companies themselves like Philip Morris, Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Inc. and other large and small companies in the US like General Motors. They also talked to Filipino-American groups in the US to convince them these organizations to patronize the medical and surgical services offered by hospitals in the Philippines,” he said.

Del Mundo expressed optimism these agencies could convince more foreign patients to the Philippines, citing the country’s distinct advantages such as competitive costs of services and the country’s hospitable, English-speaking, high quality medical labor force.

“Our medical rates are very competitive,” he boasted. “Our prices range from one-third to one-tenth of what it would cost in the US.”

The medical tourism industry had generated about $ 200 million in 2006 as against the $ 125-million target for the year. This was just a year after the full operations of the Philippine Medical Tourism Program (PMTP).

“Our target this year is double at $ 400 million,” he said, adding that “We project that for every patient that goes back to their respective countries, they will advertise to at least two patients so, this will double the income. We are also targeting not only the $ 1,000 procedures but also the $ 5,000 and above procedures.”

Del Mundo noted the $ 5,000 medical procedures include cosmetic surgeries like the liposuction, breast implant, blepharoplasty for eyelids and facial cosmetic surgeries.

Highest revenue generating services commonly sought in the Philippines are life-saving procedures like coronary bypass surgery, kidney transplants, bone marrow transplants, cancer therapy and other specialized cardiac, lung, kidney and liver transplant.

Aside from such medical services, the Department of Tourism is actively promoting the traditional and alternative healthcare, the spa and other forms of therapies which are indigenous to the Philippines like the herbal food supplements, ‘hilot’ and massage therapies.

Aside from revenues it brings to the economy, Del Mundo said the rising medical tourism industry also offers employment opportunities not only in the medical field but also in the paramedical, tourism and trade fields.

“As the years go by, there are many competitors but with those concerns –insurance portability, facilities upgrade, human resource coming back to the Philippines and OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) supporting their relatives here in the country, that would be a lot of money for the Philippines,” he added. (PNA)


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