Government developing medical tourism roadmap-A A +A
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
THE government is crafting the roadmap on medical tourism to help advance key cities like Cebu in terms of offering high quality medical services and facilities.
Two hospitals from Cebu, the Perpetual Succour Hospital (PSH) and Cebu Doctors University Hospital (CDUH), were initially included in the development of the roadmap, according to Department of Trade and Industry Cebu Provincial Office (DTI-CPO) Director Nelia Navarro.
Navarro said the DTI Board of Investments (BOI), Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) met in Manila to come up with the medical tourism roadmap.
Navarro, who is an officer of the Cebu Health and Wellness Council (CHWC), said the move by the agencies to include Cebu in the survey in preparation for the roadmap is a welcome sign, given the province’s goal to become the preferred medical tourism destination in the country.
“We will come up with a tag line and various measures that would help boost the country’s footing in the medical tourism industry and action plans that would address issues faced by the industry,” she said.
Before the roadmap will be finalized and presented to President Benigno Aquino III, Navarro said a feedback session will be held this month. She said Chong Hua Hospital, PSH and CDUH have been invited to participate in the session.
“Once (the roadmap) is certified by the president this year, some funding will be given to the sector as far as marketing is concerned,” said Navarro.
She said Cebu will benefit from the roadmap. Cebu offers light medical and dental services, which Navarro said are within the services identified in the roadmap. She said Cebu also has an organized medical community that is easy to gather in time for the feedback session.
“The advantage here is that with the roadmap, we now have a clearer direction, support from Manila and the convergence of different agencies and the government,” she said.
Foreign patients are not the only market for Cebu for medical tourism, said Latvian consul Robert Joseph, who is also chairman emeritus of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies.
Joseph said the 10 million to 12 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are a captured market for the industry.
Joseph said the country needs to improve its infrastructure and employ right policies to improve the country’s positioning as a medical tourism destination.
He said the country has a strong market for medical tourism because of its highly-qualified English-speaking medical professionals, competitive pricing in medical services and numerous tourist attractions like beaches that are ideal for recuperation.
“When these OFWs will retire, they would seek medical services here,” Joseph said.
The Philippines targets $3 billion revenues from medical tourism by 2015.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2012.