GONE are the days when a patient spends his recovery period in a hospital room while anxiously waiting for his enormous bill to arrive. Recovery may now also mean and include a scenic — therapeutic, if you will— tour to the country’s tourism spots, in a travel package suited to the particular patient.

Welcome to the age of medical tourism, a vacation-leave-meets-sick leave, science-meets-Zen arrangement where a patient obtains treatment in a foreign country and gets to tour it too. An added bonus: surprisingly cheaper costs considering the combined travel and medical expenses.

In the Philippines, the UST Hospital is one of few hospitals that have been accredited by the government to take in medical tourists and provide competent medical services.

With the overwhelming costs of medical, surgical, and dental treatments in industrialized countries, people have turned to more affordable and practical alternatives. “The cost of the same services in a foreign country could be about twice to thrice what they will pay in our country,” UST Hospital’s marketing communications consultant France Manto told the Varsitarian.

Says www.medicaltourism.com, medical “tourists” who come from industrialized countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain usually flock to countries like India, the East Indies, and South America to get medical treatment and at the same time go sight-seeing.

Asia has a lot to offer not just in the medical aspect but the tourism field as well and the Philippine government is beginning to catch up on the trend.

In 2004, the Philippine Medical Tourism Program was launched through Executive Order 372, the public-private sector initiative on the promotion of medical tourism in the country.

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Since then, several hospitals have been lining up for accreditation at the Department of Tourism. The UST Hospital was fifth to be accredited as a medical tourism center after St. Luke’s Medical Center, the Capitol Medical Center, Medical City and St. Frances Cabrini Medical Center in Santo Tomas, Batangas.

Other accredited hospitals are the Makati Medical Center, Metropolitan Medical Center, Asian Hospital, and the World Citi Medical Center.

Services offered

With 60 years of experience in providing healthcare, the USTH is globally competent in terms of its healthcare professionals and modern facilities. Participating in the emerging trend of medical tourism did not come as a surprise.

“We have been doing medical tourism in USTH long before the term was coined. USTH has been serving international patients already. In terms of expertise and capability, USTH has a lot to offer to international patients,” Manto said.

The services to be offered to the medical tourists by the USTH are plastic and reconstructive surgery, ophthalmology, and laparoscopic surgery.

USTH also offers an array of reconstructive surgeries. From beauty-enhancement procedures like face and nose lifts to figure flattering treatments like liposuction, tummy tucks, and Botox injections; USTH has it all. Prices range from P18,500 ($350) to P218,890 ($4,130) depending on the treatment and the number of days of treatment. In terms of ophthalmology, USTH offers eye operations such as glaucoma operation, focal laser, enucleation, and other complicated eye surgeries. Prices range from P34,980 ($660) to P161,650 ($3, 050).

On the other hand, laparoscopic surgery, an advanced type of surgery which involves small incisions instead of large surgical incisions that is said to be less painful promises faster recovery and reduces chances of infection. Prices range from P112,890 ($2130) to P151,580 ($2860).

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The prices, however, are meant for the medical treatments only and the medical and travel insurances are not yet included in the medical packages.

The USTH also offers check-up packages for medical tourists, either male or female in-patient. Each package is inclusive of three days room and board, an admitting kit, laboratory studies, special exams, x-ray studies and ultra-sonic examinations. Each package costs around P31,800-P37,100 ($600-$700).

Making tourists feel at home

Safety is also a primary concern of the USTH when it comes to their international patients. They try to make their patients as secure and as comfortable in the duration of their treatment.

In connection with the medical tourism program, the USTH has also allocated 70 international hotel-standard rooms for their patients.

The hospital is also in partnership with the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies in the Philippines (NAITAS), the premiere and largest association of independent travel agencies in the Philippines. NAITAS will offer tour packages to patients both healed and on the mend. This of course depends on the package’s suitability to the patient.

In an update on the hospital’s official website, the USTH, headed by chief executive officer Cenon R. Alfonso, will also be one of the few hospitals to represent the Philippines in the First World Health Tourism Congress on May 27-29 in Weisbaden, Germany where UST can promote its medical tourism program.

USTH is one of the 50 vendors in the congress. Vendors are the medical institutions that will be promoting the medical tourism packages to the corporate buyers. Buyers are from the ministries of health, insurance companies, multi-national corporations, and travel agencies from different countries. J. S. Cahilig

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Source: www.usthospital.com.ph

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