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Thailand to focus more on medical care

The medical tourism industry has been growing worldwide. It involves about 50 countries in all continents and several Asian countries are clearly in the lead. In Asia, medical tourism is highest in India, Singapore and Thailand.

Olivier Languepin

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Bangkok Hospital

Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS) is pushing Thailand to become a medical metropolis or ‘Medicopolis’, focusing on complete medical care services. TCELS Advisor, Honorary Professor Montri Chulavatnatol, said although the policy promoting Thailand as a medical hub is underway; the practice does not cover all medical institutions.

He added many of the hospitals still lack technology, medicine and equipment, which have to be imported, resulting in higher medical bills. Honorary Professor Montri explained that if Thailand is able to provide a complete service in terms of locally produced medicines, equipment, and technology, it will help lower its medical costs; while earning more income from the services provided.

Bangkok Hospital

Thailand to become a medical metropolis or 'Medicopolis', focusing on complete medical care services

The Medicopolis concept is, therefore, introduced, with a focus on developing public health research and medical service covering health and beauty areas. According to the TCELS advisor, the Medicopolis will provide effective medical service, strengthen the economy by the service, and integrate research in medical development, medicines, and equipment. He urged the government to support the move and allow the private sector to invest in the project for further improvement in the medical field. Read More

The medical tourism industry has been growing worldwide.

It involves about 50 countries in all continents and several Asian countries are clearly in the lead. In Asia, medical tourism is highest in India, Singapore and Thailand. These three countries, which combined comprised about 90% of the medical tourism market share in Asia in 2008, have invested heavily in their health-care infrastructures to meet the increased demand for accredited medical care through first-class facilities.

In 2007, Thailand provided medical services for as many as 1.4 million foreign patients, including medical tourists, general tourists and foreigners working or living in Thailand or its neighbouring countries.

If we assume that about 30% of all foreign patients that year were medical tourists – a conservative figure by comparison with the Boston Consulting Group’s estimate of 50% in 2006– the total number would have been about 420 000. This was more than in Singapore, formerly reputed to be the leading Asian medical tourist destination and the “medical hub of Asia”

Although medical tourists are still a small fraction of the 1.5 million foreigners who receive medical care in Thailand, they are the tourist group most likely to affect the country in a major way. Unlike general tourists and expatriates, medical tourists are increasing at a rapid pace – from almost none to 450 000 a year in less than a decade. Moreover, medical tourists tend to seek more intensive and costly treatments than other foreign patients, as a result of which their effect on the country is more profound.

Bangkok Correspondent for Siam News Network. Editor at Thailand Business News

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