The Government, in its medical hub plan, will serve as a facilitator for private hospitals, helping them to improve their medical services to foreign visitors seeking health care in Thailand.
Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong stressed that the Government would ensure that the plan would not affect the availability of affordable health care for Thai people.
Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” Minister Pradit said that the medical hub plan involves mainly the operations of private hospitals, while state hospitals still focus on medical services for Thai nationals. So the plan should not adversely affect Thai patients, and the Government would not spend national funds on private hospitals.
Apart from serving as the facilitator, he said, the public sector would help boost the image of the country in terms of medical advances. The medical hub policy would encourage health establishments in Thailand to improve their health services to higher standards. This will enhance the competitiveness of Thailand, as well.
According to Minister Pradit, in 2012 almost one million foreign visitors entered Thailand for health care, bringing in 140 billion baht. The number of medical tourists visiting Thailand is on the rise. In facilitating their trips to Thailand, the Government has granted visa extensions from 30 days to 90 days for nationals of six countries in the Middle East in the initial stage, so that they can stay in Thailand for a longer period for medical services. Visa extensions will later be granted to medical tourists from other countries.
He said that the Government had recently organized the first workshop for hospitals under the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education to work together in an integrated manner, so that they would optimize the use of existing resources. In the workshop, they discussed the road map to proceed with Thailand’s medical hub plan, which also includes the creation of more qualified physicians. More workshops will be held for further discussions on the issue.
Minister Pradit said that the Government had set a target for medical tourism to grow by 10 percent a year, depending on the ability of private hospitals. The Government would facilitate the operations of private hospitals to achieve this target. To date, many private hospitals have been recognized and approved as meeting the standards set for the Hospital Accreditation of Thailand and international standards, such as ISO.
In developing Thailand into a regional medical hub, the Government will emphasize four areas. In the first area, Thailand will be promoted as a wellness hub with full-cycle services. The second area is that the medical service hub will link with spa services and health tourism. The third area seeks to turn Thailand into an academic hub for health care. The fourth area seeks to develop Thailand into a pharmaceutical and health products center.