Thailand: An International Medical Hub
Thailand is famous for its sandy beaches, diving, jungle treks, colourful temples, excellent food, city partying, pampering spas and massages. All the ingredients for an eventful and relaxing holiday. But in recent years the Kingdom has added another, very different, attraction to its long list: health.
The plan to establish Thailand as a world-class health-care provider is promoted by Thailand’s ministries of public health and commerce, in connection with private hospitals. In 2004 a strategy was launched that aimed at systematically making the country the ‘health-tourism hub of Asia’, offering first-class medical care. That year, 600,000 foreign patients visited the country and brought in revenue of 20 billion baht. In 2012, 2.5 million people travelled to Thailand to receive medical treatment, bringing in 121.6 billion baht. The plan is obviously working! Encouraged by this success, the government put additional policies in place, and targeted four areas of health care that could be marketed world-wide: medical treatment, health promotion, traditional Thai medicine and alternative medicine, and health products, especially Thai herbs.
What makes Thailand so attractive to patients when compared to Europe, USA, some of the Middle-Eastern countries and other regions of Asia, is that the health care and procedures are affordable (50% cheaper than in Singapore and five to ten times cheaper than in Europe and the USA), the level of care is high, the equipment used is up to date and the staff speak good English. Most doctors in international hospitals in Thailand specialised or received some training outside of Thailand (often in the USA, Japan or Australia), so their knowledge should be at least as good as their counterparts’ in the West. Thai hospitals excel in orthopaedics, oncology and cardiology, with some hospitals also having a good reputation in cosmetic surgery. Writing that, I remember a story told by a friend. He was trying in vain for the past 5 years to get a diagnosis for his excruciating back from his Finnish doctor. In Thailand, he received his diagnosis within 30 minutes. And with a treatment plan! Some doctors from the UK and Germany even refer their patients to a Spine Centre in Thailand to have Total Artificial Disc Replacement (TARD) procedures done there. Thailand is also popular for general medical checks (human MOT’s), IVF treatment, eye surgery and dentistry.
The glowing reports of competence and high regard inspire confidence. So in case you need to visit a hospital while in Thailand, don’t worry too much. Feeling safe and in good hands, will speed up your recovery.