GOVERNMENT needs to ramp up its efforts to get its share of the global medical tourism market, an industry player said.
“Medical tourism in the country is picking up as more foreign patients seek medical services here. As a regional player, we are slowly catching up with our neighbors like Thailand and Korea,” said Dr. Roderick Yalung, medical director of Regenestem in the Philippines.
He noted that a lot of hospitals and health and wellness centers in the country are now affiliated with institutions abroad, and that many medical centers and clinics have innovated and now use state-of-the-art facilities.
Yalung believes the Philippines is well positioned for medical tourism because we offer cheaper services yet high-quality medical attention, plus a variety of destinations to offer while patients recuperate.
He pointed out that a breast augmentation package would cost $8,000 to $10,000. This already covers hotel accommodations and round-trip fares plus a visit to a local tourism destination. The same amount would cover only the cost of the procedure, he said, in the United States.
“We really have advantages, that’s why the industry is calling on the government to fund medical tourism because this could be a revenue driver for the economy,” Yalung said. Government support was a key factor in the thriving medical tourism industry in countries like Thailand, Korea and Singapore, he added.
In a 2010 study, the Philippines ranked 11th in the top 15 destinations for medical tourists in the world, with Thailand and Singapore in the top two slots.
According to a 2013 report by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, one of the problems is the lack of information such as medical tourist arrivals, expenditures, and services.
Yalung was recently in Cebu to open Regenestem, its first clinic in the Visayas and the second clinic in Asia of the Global Stem Cell Group, which offers “the most comprehensive and up-to-date” stem cell treatments. Regenestem Cebu is located at Block 88 of Oakridge Business Park on A.S. Fortuna in Mandaue City. It also offers services like cosmetic surgery, anti-ageing, dermatology, regenerative medicine, sports and arthritis medicine, and molecular orthopedics.
“We decided to open in Cebu because of its robust tourism and we believe there is a ready market for these kinds of medical services,” said Yalung.
He cited the presence of Koreans, Cebu’s top tourism source market. Rhinoplasty in Korea costs some $5,000, compared to $2,000 in the Philippines.
Currently, there are Regenestem clinics in Manila, United States, Mexico, Dubai, Argentina and Chile.