Lawmakers yesterday urged the Department of Tourism to adopt a more attractive program to promote medical tourism in the country, a press release from Congress said.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan De Oro City, 2nd District) author of House Resolution 2025, said foreign nationals, Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipinos living abroad are among the potential targets of medical tourism.
Rodriguez said the DOT should implement proper programs to attract foreigners and Overseas Filipino Workers to get health care, medical, surgical, aesthetic and other wellness needs in the Philippines to boost the country's medical tourism industry.
Rodriguez said medical tourism in other countries in Southeast Asia was able to attract more medical tourists because they have very organized government support and remedied their language barriers by employing interpreters.
"Foreigners who will invest in healthcare facilities and service in the Philippines will result in increased job opportunities for Filipinos and will also motivate local hospitals to follow the best, world–class standards and medical practices to be able to compete on a global level," Rodriguez said.
Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao), co-author of the measure, said the country still needs to upgrade its standards for doctors and healthcare facilities with international levels to effectively entice foreign travelers to come and avail of the medical services the country could offer.
"While the medical tourism industry of the country is growing, there is still a lot of room for improvement," Rodriguez said.
He cited the report of the Philippine Medical Tourism Inc., saying the Philippines has internationally recognized health care professionals who have excellent healthcare education and training.
"Compared to the cost of health care in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Europe, and other Asian countries, the cost of having medical procedures done in the Philippines can be 50-80 percent cheaper," Rodriguez said.
He also said the Philippines' share of the 3.5 million medical travelers in Southeast Asia was a measly three percent with Malaysia having 393,000 foreign patients and South Korea with 200,000 patients in 2010.*