PHL as medical tourism destination

The Philippines is fast-becoming a global medical tourism destination. Annually, more than 200,000 medical tourists come to the country to avail themselves of expert services from our medical and dental professionals. Overseas Filipino workers and expatriates also travel back to the country to have their medical and dental procedures. No wonder the Philippines is now among the preferred medical tourism destinations in the world. That’s partly because we have many healthcare providers who can speak English.

Foreigners who come to the Philippines for various medical procedures know that our health and wellness facilities offer high standards of medical treatment at very reasonable prices. For example, the country has a wealth of skilled cosmetic surgeons who specialize in face-lifts, rhinoplasty, abdominal tucks and breast augmentation. Most of these operations cost a fraction of the price of those in developed countries. And many of our surgeons are considered to be the best in their field.

However, the Philippines need to continually improve its health-service offerings to climb to the top. The rising cost of health care in developed nations and an aging global population have given rise to the booming medical tourism industry where we can stake our claim. The Philippines is in a good position to compete as a result of the sector’s improved systems and high quality of health-care services, and well-trained professionals offered by the country’s leading hospitals and medical clinics.

The ability of our medical facilities and practitioners to out-price the competition, while maintaining high-quality standards, places the country as a serious competitor in the global medical tourism market. Cosmetic surgery, wellness treatments and dentistry are just some of the specialty care that the country offers. One of the problems holding our medical tourism industry back from taking off is the national infrastructure deficit, since many airlines still cannot fly directly to the Philippines. For example, the quality of our airports is still lagging behind regional counterparts. The Duterte administration, however, is trying to solve this problem.

Sadly, the Philippines continues to lose thousands of highly skilled health workers to First World countries that can offer high salaries and other benefits. Filipino dentists and dental surgeons working overseas are good examples. But they are also taking note of developments showing that, every year, more and more foreign patients are coming here for cosmetic dental surgery and other dental services. The main reason foreigners prefer the Philippines to other medical tourism destinations is the unbelievably low cost of dental services here. Our professionals can offer dental procedures at a cost that is 50 percent to 80 percent lower than what they cost in developed countries.

The country’s medical tourism industry presents vast opportunities for growth, for creating local employment, for skill building and for solving our brain drain problem. Unfortunately, a recent incident involving a 29-year-old businesswoman who died while undergoing liposuction, breast and butt surgery at a clinic in Mandaluyong City can potentially harm the country’s medical tourism industry. While the police is doing its investigation to determine whether there is negligence during the operation, health authorities can help preserve our medical tourism gains by ensuring that our regulatory mechanisms can protect foreign patients seeking medical procedures in our health and wellness facilities.