Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Capital Business
Capital Business

Features

Seeing the doctor, overseas: medical tourism booms in Asia

medical tourist

The lines snaking into Bangladesh’s overwhelmed hospitals are often so long, says Nusrat Hussein Kiwan, that they extend into the street outside — too many patients seeking too few quality doctors.

So, through a Google search, the wife of a Bangladeshi construction executive chose a Malaysian hospital for her heart bypass surgery.

“It’s peaceful here, and my doctors are good,” Kiwan, 65, said during a post-op check-up at a Kuala Lumpur private hospital, looking full of life in an orange headscarf and sparkling gold bracelets.

“I didn’t expect to be as good as before. But I’m better.”

Kiwan spent $20,000 on the procedure earlier this year, joining a booming global medical tourism market that is seeing particularly rapid growth in Southeast Asia.

US-based industry resource Patients Beyond Borders estimates the world market is expanding by 25 percent per year — it reached $55 billion with 11 million medical tourists in 2013.

International medical tourism began to gain ground in the 1980s as Latin American countries such as Costa Rica and Brazil offered relatively cheap dental, cosmetic and other procedures to US and European patients driven south by high costs.

But the onetime niche market has developed into a multi-billion-dollar industry as developing-world health systems improve, global aviation links spread, and the Internet broadens patients’ horizons.

Procedures vary widely from fertility treatments in Barbados, to cosmetic surgery in Brazil, heart and eye operations in Malaysia, and gender-reassignment in Thailand.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

‘Perfect storm’

The sector benefits from a “perfect storm of an ageing global population, rising affluence and greater choice in quality hospitals,” said Josef Woodman, CEO of Patients Beyond Borders.

“This is particularly true in Asia, where disparities in quality of care are driving millions of patients to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan — and even the US and UK — in search of medical treatment not yet available in their homelands.”

“The near-term growth potential is significant,” he said.

Increasingly, major Asian players like India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are aggressively promoting treatments at up to 80 percent savings compared to developed nations, with some companies arranging package trips that combine a nose job with a little beach time.

Pages: 1 2

Click to comment
Advertisement

More on Capital Business

Executive Lifestyle

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – The country’s super wealthy individuals are increasing their holding of bonds, gold and cash, a new report by Knight...

Ask Kirubi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi has urged members of the public to exercise extreme caution when making any...

Headlines

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – Commercial Banks have been ordered to provide relief to borrowers on their personal loans, with loans eligible from March...

Ask Kirubi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi is set to own half of Centum Investment Company PLC, following a go-ahead...

Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun17 – Kenya’s tea leaves manufacturer Kericho Gold, has been awarded the Superbrands Seal by Superbrands East Africa for their quality variety...

Coronavirus

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Airtel Kenya is offering free internet access for students in order to enable continued learning at home in the...

Coronavirus

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – As the local telecommunications industry gears up to roll out 5G networks in the country, the Communications Authority of...

Headlines

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – The World Bank has given the Kenyan government USD 60 Million (Sh6.1 billion) to help combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic...