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Asia: A Global Leader in Medical Tourism

Asia is well known across the world for its unique cuisine and breathtaking scenery, but during the last few decades, this continent has gained immense popularity because of its ability to provide high-quality and state-of-the-art medical procedures. Foreigners are now traveling to Asia not for leisure but for medical reasons, and the results are impeccable. Here, we will cover the top Asian countries that are considered leaders in the field of medical tourism.

Thailand

In 2018, Thailand launched a policy called Thailand 4.0, which aims to make the country the leading medical destination in Asia. Because of the heavy publicity and campaign, Thailand’s medical value reached an all-time high of USD 600 million in 2018 alone. This catapulted the country to earn the spot as the world’s fourth-leading destination for medical tourism.

The World Health Organization expressed its approval, calling Thailand a world-class destination for medical tourism. Joint Commission International, a group known across the world for providing its seal of approval only to high-quality medical facilities, also provided its accreditation to 37 private clinics and hospitals. Currently, the country boasts a total of 1,000 hospitals, of which 470 are private.

The three main reasons why Thailand keeps dominating this industry are the low cost of medical treatment, the quality of treatment and overall experience, and the highly developed tourism industry. Some of the most common medical procedures that Thailand offers are:

  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  • Dental procedures
  • Cardiac procedures
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Infertility treatment
  • Ophthalmology and eye surgeries
  • Bariatric surgery/ gastric bypass

Singapore

Singapore is one of the top medical tourism destinations in the world. In fact, it ranks second to Canada in the Medical Tourism Index. According to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the country receives around 500,000 medical tourists every year. 250,000 of those come from its neighbor country Indonesia.

Singapore is known to offer top medical procedures, including scoliosis treatment, knee replacement, cardiac surgeries, cancer treatments, and orthopedic surgery. In late 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Singapore sixth out of the 100 best healthcare systems in the world.

Currently, the country has a total of 22 medical facilities and hospitals that bear the accreditation of Joint Commission International (JCI). All private healthcare facilities in Singapore are JCI approved. Below are the names of the major private hospitals in the country:

  • Mount Elizabeth Hospital
  • Camden Medical Center
  • Thomson Medical Center
  • Raffles Hospital
  • Novena Medical Center
  • Johns Hopkins Singapore International Medical Center

South Korea

Seoul Korea

In 2018, South Korea recorded more than two million tourists that visited the country for medical purposes. These patients came from 190 different countries, including the United States, Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia, and Uzbekistan.

The technological advances in South Korea have greatly helped improve the country’s medical tourism industry. Currently, the country is developing technology in the field of robotics surgery, a method that will highly impact its overall healthcare system.

South Korea actively promotes itself as a medical hub for plastic surgery. Most of the patients that undergo dermatology and plastic surgery procedures are from neighboring Asian countries, such as Thailand, China, and Japan. Moreover, among the most sought-after medical departments in South Korea are examination centers, gynecology, and internal medicine.

India

India accounts for nearly 90% of Asia’s total medical tourism industry. It is named as one of the Big Three, which includes Thailand and Singapore. India also accounts for nearly 20% of the global healthcare market. Around 6% to 8% of the tourists visiting India are from Europe, while another 19% come from Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Aside from having state-of-the-art facilities, India is also popular because of its reduced medical costs. This is one reason why it’s popular among medical tourists because the cost of the procedure in India is 1/10 of the cost of service in other developed countries.

Despite being affordable, healthcare services are not sub-par. The country boasts a huge number of doctors and healthcare professionals that underwent training and residency in prestigious Western universities. It also helps that healthcare professionals in India are fluent in speaking English, making the language barrier not an issue.

India has a total of 39 JCI-accredited hospitals. Though New Delhi is the country’s capital, the city of Chennai is what they call India’s Health Capital. Chennai alone is responsible for bringing in an estimate of 150 international patients every day. Here are some of the most popular procedures in India:

  • Alternative Medicine
  • Bone Marrow Transplant
  • Cancer Treatments
  • Cardiac Bypass
  • Dental Care and Surgery
  • Eye Surgery
  • Hip Replacement

Medical tourism is now a growing trend across the world. For the past few decades, Asia has been significantly improving its healthcare and medical industry. Once the pandemic is over, you can consider visiting this continent not just for leisure purposes but for your medical needs as well.

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