x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

China may grow to be major medical tourist draw

If China's private-sector health system develops sufficiently, the country could become a key destination for medical tourism, say experts.

If China's private-sector health system develops sufficiently, the country could become a key destination for medical tourism, say experts.

Just as India and Thailand have attracted thousands of people from overseas who pay for major treatments including cosmetic surgery and organ transplants, so the China, with its competitive labour rates that translate into keenly priced fees, might be able to draw in larger numbers.

"I think China would have the capability to attract overseas [patients] to have their operations, if they can afford it," says Pei Likun, a professor and executive director of the Centre of China Studies at La Trobe University in Australia.

She says in terms of "facilities or capacities", health care in China is often "very, very good" with many hospitals equipped with high-quality equipment.

Already, both private and government hospitals in China are offering treatment to patients from overseas, although development of the medical tourism sector is in its early stages.

In India the situation is more advanced with medical tourism expected to be worth as much as US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) annually in the coming years.

Hong Kong is further ahead than the mainland and already some of its hospitals have secured international accreditations, helping the territory to be seen as a credible alternative to major medical tourism centres in SouthEast Asia.

While China may increasingly be looking to attract patients from overseas, at the moment many wealthy Chinese travel abroad for treatment, with destinations in South East Asia, including Singapore, among the most popular.

 

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