Medical tourism can bring huge incomes to countries, but it has not been properly exploited in Vietnam.
According to Deloitte, global medical tourism has value of no less than $60 billion. It is estimated that 50,000 Vietnamese travel abroad to have healthcare services with total spending of $2 billion every year.
A report from Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) showed that in 2016 about 9,800 Vietnamese patients had healthcare services in the country.
The agency in late 2015 opened a medical tourism office in Vietnam and in April 2017, launched ytemalaysia.vn to help Vietnamese approach Malaysian healthcare system and tourism services.
The representative offices of Singaporean medical centers in Hanoi and HCMC not only provide information, but also help customers follow necessary procedures to go to Singapore for healthcare services. Vietnamese travelers don’t have to book tours with Vietnamese travel firms.
Experts say Vietnam is capable of developing medical tourism as neighboring countries have. In SE Asia, Vietnam’s healthcare sector is highly appreciated in infertility treatment with high success rates and for cheap cosmetic and dental aesthetics services.
HCMC has great potential for medical tourism development. The city gathers many prestigious hospitals including the University Medical Center HCMC, Cho Ray, Tu Du and FV which can provide services at international standards. The hospitals all have experience in treating foreigners.
Since 2008, the University Medical Center HCMC has been providing inpatient treatment to 6,000 foreign patients. At FV, besides 20,000 patients from the neighboring countries of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, there are also many patients from the US and Africa.
The other hospitals of Tu Du, Van Hanh and Cho Ray each year receive 500 foreign patients.
However, despite the high qualifications of Vietnamese medical workers and advantages in beautiful landscapes, Vietnam’s medical tourism potential still has not been well exploited.
Most foreign patients who come to Vietnam to have medical treatment have demand for sightseeing and relaxing. Meanwhile, many travelers said it takes much time to arrange medical tours to Vietnam because of the lack of information, while travel firms offer few medical tours.
Having realized the great potential, the HCMC Healthcare and Tourism Departments have decided to join forces to develop medical tourism.
According to deputy director of the Healthcare Department, medical tourism will focus on five major types: dentistry, traditional medicine, aesthetics, health screening and specialized services.
La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the HCMC Tourism Department, said it is now the right time to promote medical tourism, when Vietnam has the facilities and staff sufficiently qualified to compete with other regional countries.
There will be two important events in June – a workshop on medical tourism and dental tourism exhibition.