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Medical tourism: Thailand Troubles Could Lift Philippines

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 2, 2008

A few days ago, columnist Tony Lopez wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Manila Times complaining about a new report on medical tourism from Deloitte. The report talks about Asian medical-tourism destinations like Singapore and Thailand and doesn’t even mention the Philippines. “This is disturbing because the Philippines has far better facilities and more qualified and experienced medical personnel than either or both Singapore and Thailand,” writes Lopez. Maybe, although I bet the folks at Singapore’s Parkway group of hospitals or Thailand’s Bumrungrad would argue that point.

With so many people in the health-care industry excited about the likelihood that American insurance companies will be sending U.S. patients overseas in growing numbers, the Philippines is just one of many countries trying to get into the medical-tourism game. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Lopez writes, boasted recently that the Philippines has an edge because it has some of the world’s best doctors, nurses and health-care providers. That, too, is subject to debate.

What the Philippines doesn’t have, though, is a good image, given the country’s history of coup attempts and political unrest. People traveling from the other side of the world for medical treatment have enough to worry about without having to fret about the stability of the country they’re visiting. That’s one reason Singapore does so well. And, with protesters again in the streets of Bangkok, it’s one reason Thailand’s medical-tourism plays are probably going to suffer in the months ahead. Investors seem to think so: Bumrungrad’s stock price is down sharply since the latest round of unrest in Bangkok started. If the Philippines loses the dubious honor of being the least stable country in Southeast Asia, then maybe it does stand a chance in medical tourism.

Reader Comments


September 2, 2008 9:26 PM

I for one would vouch for the facilities and doctors in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, the stability thing pretty much cancels all of that out.

With the southern-most parts of the country practically in a state of war, it's really no wonder.

My only gripe with Singapore is that you can't smoke while walking.

managing editor

September 14, 2008 7:34 PM

A report by Ashley Silverio, travel editor of the Asian Journal, entltled Growing Medical Tourism states:

"According to a 2007 study by Health Care Tourism International, the Philippines rounded out the top three most searched for countries for medical tourism on the internet after India and Thailand.
A number of companies in the Philippines are already assisting healthcare tourists. Health and Leisure, a part of the Gulf Express Corporation, helps clients receive care in the finest medical centers in the Philippines, such as MakatiMed Medical Tourism and the American Eye Center. The Philippine government created the Philippine Medical Tourism Program (PMPT) as a joint public-private venture to promote healthcare tourism. The PMPT recently named St. Luke’s Medical Center as the first and only full partner of the Department of Health and PMPT."


September 15, 2008 3:52 AM

Thailand was one of the innovators of medical tourism. However, from a global perspective, the industry has brought both benefits and problems. The following article was just posted on the Internet and looks at medical tourism from a legal perspective. Here's the link:

Proud Filipino medical student

October 18, 2008 10:00 PM

The Philippines happen to be the 2nd largest exporter of physicians and dentists to the US according to the AMA ( and ADA ( just for people out there who are curious about the quality of Philippine medical/dental education. So it makes sense that medical tourists should flock to the Philippines to avail themselves of services from Filipino doctors at a lower cost than to consult Filipino doctors in develop countries at a higher price. Filipino doctors are also now highly sought in Finland, Canada, and Bahrain according to this news report (

call center philippines

November 19, 2008 5:00 PM

What now, Obama wins, he’s a good president with good advocacy. And we are all now in great peril.


dave mcnish

November 28, 2008 9:09 PM

I had eye surgery in the asian eye institute in Makati and I would say it was world class. People need to get a grip the country rocks.


January 8, 2009 9:49 PM

Visitors to the Philippines or to any other country for that matter should look at a country's crime rate more than anything else. Demonstrations happen even in the most advanced countries with very rare exceptions especially in authoritarian regimes where people's rights to free expression are repressed. Terrorist attacks are few and far between and can also happen anywhere. People who come to the so-called developed rich countries have far higher chances of becoming a crime victim than in the Philippines. You can look up the statistics at Nationmaster if you want some verification.

Dan McFa

January 28, 2010 8:44 PM

I'm planning on retiring in the Phils ,my family is already settled in Cagayan de Oro city in Mindanao. I can walk anywhere in the city night or day and have never had trouble.I've had an operation there and it was so simple ,cheap,quick and great facilities I'd never have anything done here in the U.S. again unless it was a dire emergency.Office calls are 4or 5 dollars,walk in.Dental work ,$6 a filling or extraction.Beat that!

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