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NOV.

27, 2011 DATE

NR # 2600C
REF. NO.

Growth in medical tourism should not disadvantage the unprivileged millions: Belmonte
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. reminded members of the Philippine Hospital Association not to leave out the millions of Filipinos in need of medical attention in their efforts to outdo their competitors in Asia in the fast evolving and growing arena of medical tourism. Growth and development of medical tourism should never leave out the millions of Filipinos who, despite and perhaps because of their economic status, are the ones most in need of medical attention and care, Belmonte stressed. The House leader, in a keynote address before officers and members of the Hospital Association of the Philippines during its 62nd Annual National convention at the Manila Hotel Thursday, noted that the immense potential of the medical tourism is readily apparent. Experts predict that this industry will breach the USD100-B mark by next year, with industry growth pegged at 20% to 30% annually, and around 17% in Asia alone, Belmonte pointed out. The Speaker noted that countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have each established a niche market Thailand for cosmetic surgery and sex change operations; and Singapore for high end treatment like cardiovascular and neurological surgery and stem cell therapy. These three countries attracted over two million medical tourists in 2006-2007, earning over US$3B in treatment costs, Belmonte said. Belmonte is confident that the growth of medical tourism in the country would translate into economic benefits in countries like the Philippines with surplus labor, higher tourism receipts, and greater revenue for government to use for infrastructure development and provision of social service for the Filipino people. The further development of medical tourism should generate higher investments, and transfer of technology and know-how, he said, noting that these are now perceptible. He cited local hospital collaborating and entering into joint ventures with their regional counterparts, the upgrading of medical facilities and equipment, and the beefingup of specialization and expertise of local doctors to give their competitors -- not only locally by region, and worldwide -- a run for their money.

NOV. 27, 2011 DATE

NR # 2600C
REF. NO.

The regional and global competition and development of medical tourism should boost quality in the countrys medical infrastructure which, Belmonte said, should redound to the benefit of the people. There is a set of imperatives that cannot be overlooked in this evolutionary trend in hospitals one that relates to the accessibility of medical to local residents, especially the poor and disadvantaged, Belmonte stressed. Likewise, Belmonte cautioned against health worker brain drain from public to private medical institutions experienced in countries like Thailand. The more lucrative employment in private hospitals especially those that cater to medical tourism is siphoning experienced medial health workers from government-run hospitals, creating an imbalance in the quality of health care provided within one jurisdiction, he said. Noting the global rise in health care cost, the House leader cautioned against some ill-effects of migration which facilitate the transmission of diseases and infections like SARS and HIV. He also touched on the ethical issues, like organ sale, that accompany the development of medical tourism. But the most important imperative that hospitals and every medical practitioner must address is foremost, the guarantee of quality health care to everyone, without discrimination, and beyond that, special care for the less privileged and disadvantaged. Even as Congress continues to upgrade and update medical legislation, this alone, he said, does not automatically translate to ready access to quality health services and care. In the end, hospitals, medical practitioners and health care providers are the first phalanx in the defense and promotion of our peoples health. It is to them therefore that we raise the appeal of equity amidst the lure of success in the highly competitive field of medical tourism, Belmonte stressed, as he lauded the conventions theme,Hospitals in Evolution Imperatives in Managing Transitions, is timely and meaningful in these changing times. (30) dpt