Medical Tourism In Singapore
Singapore, a regional leader in medicine, received the most foreign patients a decade ago. Indonesians, Malaysians and Bruneians came here for treatment in large numbers. But the island republic's increased prosperity has also increased the fees. It is now working on gaining status as a reliable venue for complicated rather than routine procedures.
Singapore Medicine, is a new government agency dedicated to promoting the city-state as a destination for medical treatment. Despite the setback of rising costs, Singapore is adapting. It aims to reinforce perceptions that it is the leading provider of sophisticated medical care in the region, even if patients wanting routine care opt to go somewhere less expensive.
According to Khaw Boon Wan, acting minister for health and senior minister of state in the ministry of finance, "In three specialties alone, heart, eye and cancer, I see millions of middle-class patients within a seven-hour flying radius, waiting to be served," He added Singapore's long-held ambition of becoming a regional medical hub had not yet fully blossomed, and acknowledged that meeting the government's new target, five times the number of patients who currently visit annually, will be a challenge.
With a healthcare delivery system ranked sixth by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Singapore has stepped on the accelerator to aggressively market itself as a healthcare destination in the region, including India. Its top-rung hospitals have India circled in red, as a destination to market its healthcare services. And this, even as India itself hard-sells "medical tourism."
More than two lakh international patients travel to
Singapore every year, say representatives of SingaporeMedicine, a multi-agency government
initiative aimed at making Singapore a medical hub for global patients. Neighbouring
Indonesia and Malaysia account for a lion's share of these numbers, but patients from
India are on the rise, they observe.
"Medical costs in Singapore are about 40 per cent
less than in the US and 60 per cent less than in the UK," says Mr Debanjan Sen of Tan
Tock Seng, the public hospital designated to handle the volumes of patients during the
SARS crisis. According to officials, Indian patients are sizeable enough to go out and
generate more interest in the Indian market.