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Covid-19 pandemic showcases Thailand as a Medical & Wellness Hub

A sophisticated healthcare system, universal healthcare coverage and robust public health consciousness have all contributed to Thailand’s success in containing the pandemic of COVID-19 virus

Boris Sullivan

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Thailand’s internationally admired performance in the pandemic of the COVID-19 virus has showcased
the exceptional strengths of the country’s health care system and medical industry to further justify
its drive towards becoming one of the world’s top medical hubs.

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A sophisticated healthcare system, universal healthcare coverage and robust public health consciousness have all contributed to Thailand’s success in containing the pandemic of COVID-19 virus and reporting one of the world’s lowest mortality rates from the disease.

Johns Hopkins University’s 2019 Global Health Security Index 1 ranked Thailand as the world’s 6th best prepared country for confronting the pandemic, reflecting the country’s public health care system’s preparedness for coping with major public health emergencies such as the pandemic of the Covid-19 virus.

Thailand ranks as the best country to have recovered from COVID-19 in Asia and ranks second among 184 countries recovering successfully from COVID-19 worldwide.

3.3 million healthcare and wellness tourists

Thailand’s National Statistics Office estimates that the country welcomed 3.3 million tourists who used its healthcare and wellness services in 2017. This number showed a continuous growth during the past decade.

The Ministry of Public Health’s survey in 2019 showed that Thailand’s ability to offer high-quality services at more reasonable cost charged by competitors in other countries is the most important factor in helping to attract the tourists for the medical and wellness industry. 

Combined with the international reputation of Thailand’s attentive and world-class medical service facilities, the skill of its medical professionals and the consultations provided by its healthcare advisers, these are the key factors that draw a large number of visitors to Thailand’s healthcare and wellness tourism industry each year. 

The survey also revealed that general medical care and surgeries, sophisticated orthopedics, in vitro fertilization, dental care are physical check-up are the medical services most sought after by the tourists. 

The ministry is promoting ten areas of the medical and wellness services at the global level namely regenerative and anti-aging sciences, alternative medicine, cardio science, musculoskeletal, dental clinic, In Vitro fertilization, cancer treatment, surgeries, ophthalmology (cataract) and precision medicine.

The International Healthcare Research Center’s Medical Tourism Industry Index1 ranked Thailand as an attractive tourism destination well above the average at 6th out of 41 countries.

The ranking was based on the quality of Thailand’s medical services and the efforts it has made in gaining international accreditation for its hospitals and developing the quality of its medical staff. In terms of quality and services, Thailand is ranked 18th in the index, from a total of 41 countries. 

Overall, the index indicates that Thailand is well on the path to establishing itself a medical tourism destination for worldwide populations.

This high-level of demand from abroad for Thailand’s medical facilities has provided the impetus for a range of technological advances, innovations, pharmaceuticals and clinical research centered on the strengths of biotechnology and digital medical devices to improve the services for patients with specific needs.

Thai hospitals and medical institutions are offering care with digitalized process, AI and big data technology to assist with and improve medical consultancy, diagnosis and overall services. The government has introduced many measures to facilitate tourists to visit Thailand for the medical services through extension of permitted period of stay and long-stay visas.

To support the medical industry’s ecosystem in Thailand’s special economic zone of Eastern Economic Corridor, the BOI is also offering incentives to assemblers and manufacturers in medical food and food supplement, medical robotics or automations, electronic control and measurement for medical devices, digital medical services, lab and clinical research facilities, standard certification testing and specialized medical care.

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