High standards urged in medical tourism

Two Filipino plastic surgeons have urged the government to set high standards in medical tourism if it is really determined to make the country a top regional destination for foreign patients.

“It is imperative that standards are set and the highest form of professionalism in plastic surgery and tourism are pursued if we want to benefit from medical tourism,” said Dr. Romeo Vergara, founder of New Life Aesthetic Surgery Center Inc. based in Libis, Quezon City.

Vergara said medical tourism will be a big boost to country in terms of revenues and might be the key to the brain drain of medical professionals the country is now experiencing.

“Medical tourism, if done properly will mean proper compensation for medical professionals so they need not leave the country,” he said.

Vergara said this can also put the Philippines on the global map as a prime tourist destination for beauty and wellness. “Medical tourism has become the latest buzz word which will bring pride and joy to the country,” he said.

For his part, Dr. James Joaquino, a co-founder of New Life, said it is important to put milestones and benchmarks on how medical tourism must be played out.

“Board certified surgeons and seamlessly integrated and very affordable vacation packages will spell the difference if we win or lose in this endeavor,” he said.

New Life has earlier formed alliances with travel agencies, resorts and hotels to establish “Beauty Holidays,” a vacation package that combines plastic surgery with holiday vacations.

Apart from its center at Cybermall in Eastwood City, New Life plans to open additional centers in Cebu City, Guagua, Pampanga and Calatagan, Batangas.

According to Elizabeth Nelle, director of the Department of Tourism’s Office of Product Research and Development, medical tourism involves traveling for the purpose of availing healthcare services or treatments of illnesses and health problems in another country or destination.

Nelle said the Philippines has bright potentials to become a competitive health vacation destination in Asia and compete for the multi-billion-dollar international medical tourism sector, given the affordable medical costs in the country, availability of state-of-the-art equipment, and abundance of Filipino doctors who have western medical training.

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