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Medical Tourism - Destination - Philippines

General Informations

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The Philippines has established itself as a medical tourism destination and receives 200,000 medical tourists annually from the US and Canada (40%), Japan and Korea (20%), Europe (17%), Middle East (7%) and Micronesia (6%). These foreign patients mostly seek cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology, cardiology or cardiovascular surgery or oncology treatment. On top of the specialities, medical tourists are drawn in by the governmental promotion alongside with the quality of medical staff that incorporate the Filipino’s natural sense of hospitality and language skills. Foreign patients can also expect cost savings of 68% of the US and 54% of the UK. All of these reasons together mean that there is hope that the Philippines will receive 700,000 medical tourists in the coming years. This may be unrealistic due to the weak infrastructure and the current brain drain among medical staff.

Philippines
Localisation 7,107 islands in the West Pacific Ocean, maritime borders with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China
Capital Manila
Biggest cities (population) Quezon City (2,679,450), Manila (1,660,714), Caloocan (1,378,856)
Inhabitants 91,983,000
Politics unitary presidential constitutional republic
Religion Catholicism (80%), other Christian denominations (10%), Islam (5%), other (5%)
Currency Peso (PHP) = € 0.01419
GDP € 111,503 million, 0.27% of the world’s GDP
Official language(s) Filipino and English
Climate tropical, affected by monsoons, average temperature throughout the year is 27°C
Time zone GMT +8, summer time GMT +7
Happy Planet Index (HPI) 14

Cultural Aspects

General Culture

Filipino culture is a mix of Eastern and Western values and traditions. It is influenced by neighbouring Asian countries, as well as America due to post-war occupation and Hispanic culture due to colonisation. Besides the official languages, many regional languages and dialects are spoken in rural areas. In addition, Spanish and Arabic are used as auxiliary languages. The Filipinos have a reputation for being a caring and hospitable nation. The food is known for its sweet, sour and salt flavour combinations, and is usually not heavily spiced.

Safety

The Philippines rank 114 on the GPI, indicating that it is an unsafe country. Opportunistic crime is present due to poverty as it is one of the poorest countries within the ASEAN region. Several terrorist groups are active, mainly concentrating in the southern part of the Philippine archipelago.

Tourists Attractions and Sights

On the main island:

  • Banaue rice terraces: scenic landscape, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering beautiful views of rice terraces built on hills
  • Intramuros: a walled settlement with churches, museums and ruins left from the Spanish occupation
  • Rizal Park or Luneta: a popular place for walks and picnics
  • Baywalk: a place famous for its atmosphere and the many bands that play at night in numerous restaurants and bars

On other islands:

  • Mount Apo: a popular area for hiking and spotting the Philippine Eagle, one of the biggest eagles in the world

Visa Requirements

Entry visa are not required for tourists from Australia, Canada, US and EU staying in the country for up to 21 days. Nationals of Brazil and Israel can enter the country without a visa for stays up to 59 days. All other nationals require visas.

Infrastructure

Transportation

The Philippines have an extensive road network with a small number of highways. Only half of the roads in this network, however, are considered to be in good condition, and congestion is a significant problem in the Manila metropolitan area. The country’s main airport is Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. Other larger airports are situated in the biggest cities. The public transport system includes light rail connections within the Manila area as well as inner city and intercity busses. In addition, there are so-called ‘jeepneys’, typical Philippine jeep-like taxis that operate like busses. Also, there is an extensive nautical infrastructure, which includes ferries and boats for multiple-day journeys and shorter transfers.

Accommodation

Accommodation ranges from extremely low budget to high luxury, all of which are competitively priced in comparison with Europe. Hotels are classified by the Department of Tourism into the following categories: Economy, Standard, First Class and Deluxe. A wide range of international chain hotels is present, including Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Regency, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Accor Hotels, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental Hotels Group and Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts. Resorts are also classified by the Department of Tourism into categories: Class AAA, Class AA, Class A and Special Interest. There are currently no partnerships between hospitals and hotels at this current moment.

Health Care System

WHO ranking 60
Physicians per 10,000 population 12 (2002)
Nurses per 10,000 population 61 (2002)
GDP spent on health care 3.4% (2009)
Education period of doctors 5 years
Education period of specialists additional up to 8 years

Health Care Providers

Philippines’ health care system includes both public and private (consisting of not-for-profit and for-profit providers) sectors. The total number of hospitals accounts for 1,778, of which 35% are government and 65% are private facilities. Public hospitals provide free consultations and free hospital stays and they are usually overcrowded. Private facilities are better equipped and have higher standards.

The country faces a major problem of “brain drain” of unemployed medical personnel leaving due to poor prospects. Another serious problem is that 50% of deaths among nationals occur due to no medical treatment.

Government hospitals in the Philippines are encouraged not to allocate more than 10% of beds for international patients while private hospitals are expected to allocate more than 10% of beds to help international charities.

Insurance

The government is currently taking measures to increase the general awareness of insurance benefits among the population and is implementing a compulsory social health insurance scheme. At the moment around 85% of population is publicly covered by The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the attached agency of the Department of Health is charge of health financing concerns of the country. Only around 5-6% of population have private insurance due to the fact that most citizens cannot afford it.

Reforms/Policies

Regarding medical tourism, the Philippines introduced an act entitled ‘Medical Tourism Act of 2007’ with the goal to facilitate the collaboration among government and private health service providers at the national and local levels in order to promote quality medical tourism.

General Medical Tourism Information

Being one of the poorest countries in Asia, the Philippines have seen the potential of developing inbound medical tourism. The number of medical tourists is around 200,000 people annually out of 3,139,422 visitors (2008). 185 According to the Philippine Department of Health, there is no precise amount of medical tourism revenue recorded. However, the estimated revenue is € 200 million.

In 2006, the government established a plan to make the Philippines the “new hub of wellness and medical care in Asia” in five years. This programme is expected to bring up to USD 2 billion to the country annually with an estimate of 700,000 medical tourists per year. 186, 187 However, this ambition is rather unrealistic taking into consideration the poor state of health care system. In October 2009, the first Health and Wellness Tourism Summit was held and in March 2009 the Philippines was the first country in Asia Pacific to host the World Health Tourism Congress.

Flows

Medical tourists mainly come from the US and Canada (40%), Japan and Korea (20%), Europe (17%), Middle East (7%), Micronesia (6%) and other countries, mostly China and India (10%).

Reasons

  • Cost savings: competitive prices for medical procedures compared to those in US (cost saving of 68%) or UK (cost saving of 54%).
  • Quality: Western-trained medical specialists and nurses famous for their caring nature.
  • No waiting times: waiting times are minimal compared to the UK and the US.
  • Language skills: English is an official language.

Specialisation

Main areas of medical specialisation in the Philippines include:

  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Cardiology
  • Cardiovascular surgery
  • Oncology

Top Facilities

The top facilities have been selected using the following criteria’s, listed in order of importance: JCI Accreditation, ISQua accreditation, international orientation. In general national accreditation systems have not been taken into consideration, due to the fact that there are too many and judging them is out of the scope of this study. Jordan has four JCI accredited facilities. There are two JCI accredited hospitals in the Philippines, and one is being assessed:

  • St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City
  • The Medical City, Manila
  • Asian Hospital and Medical Centre, Manila

SWOT

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Active promotion of medical tourism
  • Cost savings of 68% compared to the US and 54% compared to the UK
  • Quality of medics and caring culture
  • No waiting times
  • English is an official language
  • Relatively unsafe country as it ranks 114 on the GPI
  • Weak road infrastructure
  • Brain drain amongst medical professionals

Conclusion

The Philippines have established themselves as a medical tourism destination and receive 200,000 medical tourists annually. These come from the US and Canada (40%), Japan and Korea (20%), Europe (17%), Middle East (7%) and Micronesia (6%). This success is most probably due to the governmental promotion alongside with the quality of medical staff that incorporates the Filipino’s natural sense of hospitality and language skills. In addition, the country offers cost savings of 68% of the US and 54% of the UK. The Philippines are hoping to receive 700,000 medical tourists in the coming years although this may be unrealistic due to the weak infrastructure and the current brain drain among medical staff.

Top Facility Chart

Philippines St Luke Medical Centre The Medical City Asian Hospital and Medical Centre
Location and website Quezon City
www.stluke.com.ph
Manila
www.themedicalcity.com
Manila
www.asianhospital.com
Accreditations or certifications JCI JCI JCI in progress
Capacity of hospital beds 650 beds 800 beds 217 beds
Possible for accompanying person to stay in room No, but assistance with accommodation Yes, in private rooms No, but assistance with accommodation
Medical tourists 10% of all patients from Asia, Micronesia, the Middle East, Europe and US 1,500 (inpatients), 4,000 (outpatients) from US, Asia and Europe 8% of all patients, 50% from US, 25% from North-eastern Asia and 25% other
Number of medical staff doctors/nurses 4,500 physicians, nurses and administration 1,000 physicians and 2,100 nurses 1,500 physicians, nurses and administration
Type of rooms available (prices) Private single / deluxe / executive rooms, suites and semi-private rooms Private single rooms, suites and semi-private rooms Private single / deluxe / executive rooms, suites and semi-private rooms (€ 12- € 256)
International patient department Yes and concierge service Yes, they organise all the arrangements Yes, they organise all the arrangements
Adaptations to cultures and nations Yes, in food, language and religious habits Yes, in food, language and religious habits Yes, in food, language and religious habits
Languages spoken by staff Filipino and English Filipino and English. Translators are available Filipino and English
Marketing of the facility/USP Building a second facility, co-operation with websites such as healthbase.com and health-tourism.com as well as attending conferences Creation of satellite clinics and working with 'Health and Leisure' - medical tourism interrogators Organises many events for local and international community as well as having pages on Facebook.com and Twitter.com
Specialisations Dermatology, oncology, rheumatology, pathology and radiology Orthopaedics, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, anaesthesia and psychiatry Dermatology, cardiology, endocrinology, allergology, oncology, gastroenterology, haematology, nephrology and pulmonology

Price Chart (in €uro)

Treatment Average Price
Cardiac bypass 6,680
Gastric bypass 8,017
Knee replacement 6,714
Hip replacement 6,847
Hip resurfacing N/A
Botox treatment 134
Breast augmentation 3,507
Facelift 902
Liposuction 1,503
Dental implants 300
Rhinoplasty 284
Lasik eye surgery 508

Note: All prices are estimates, and may vary widely from source to source depending on services included in the estimate (i.e. doctor’s fees, hospitalisation, administration costs or the patient’s age and medical history). Due to non-disclosure strategies of the various locations, it was not possible to make a clear separation between those factors. All prices given for the specific facilities have been provided by the hospitals/clinics themselves via email or telephone contact. The prices are given in Euros (€).

N/A means either that treatment are not available in the specific hospital, that a price estimation cannot be found or that the medical facility did not disclose the information. For the average prices, printed literature has been used before researching sources on the internet.