One of the major concerns of ordinary law-abiding Filipino citizens nowadays is being physically in good health without any major diseases. It is a rule of thumb now that one would rather be in perfect health than be exceedingly rich but in the poorest of health conditions, or worse, living with a terminal illness.

Despite the fact that 26.3% of Filipinos are still living below the poverty line today, the Philippines still is blessed with some of the best health and medical facilities in this corner of the world. Our medical doctors are already known here and abroad to be the best in the world.

And the state of medical technology and facilities are top-notch in the country. A case in point is when a 24-year-old girl had her arm accidentally ripped off in a freak accident on the elevated railway transit here in Manila just a week ago. When everybody thought the woman would have lost her arm for good, our world-class doctors at the Makati Medical Center managed to reattach her arm to her body – bone, nerve and blood vessels – after a reported six-hour operation.

And so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Philippines was reportedly ranked as number 8 among the “Top Medical Tourism Destinations in the World” in 2015, according to a list of countries compiled by the International Healthcare Research Center and the Medical Tourism Association (MTA). The MTA is a global non-profit association for medical tourism which represents various healthcare providers and affiliate agencies.

The MTA index ranked the top 7 medical destinations providing the most suitable economic, secure, and cultural environment and acceptable health-care costs as follow: Canada (first), the United Kingdom (second), Israel (third), Singapore (fourth), Costa Rica (fifth), Italy (sixth) and Germany (seventh).

Despite the Philippines nailing the 8th place in medical tourism worldwide, Department of Tourism Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism Director Cynthia Lazo said the country is the “rising epicenter of medical tourism” with more than US$200 million generated from the medical tourism industry alone, and revenues continuing to grow annually.

Currently, medical tourism in the country has about 80,000 – 250,000 clients and patients in 62 hospitals all around the country now, all internationally accredited. From the medical records, patients reportedly come from North and South America, Australia, the Pacific islands (Guam, Marshall Islands, Palau, and Micronesia), East Asia (Korea, Taiwan, China, and Japan), Sri Lanka, Europe, the Gulf States, and the UK.

It looks like a very well put-together report and sounds very promising for the Philippines, especially when we generated US$66 million and US$145 million in 2013 and 2014, respectively, from Philippine medical tourism. But it takes more than internationally accredited hospitals and well-educated, English-speaking healthcare staff to get all those medical tourists into the country.

What we need is a really compassionate government that is working towards the betterment of all its citizens. What’s the point of providing a high standard of healthcare to international medical tourists if we cannot provide the same kind and quality of medical services to our own citizens?

One of the “usual” marketing lines we dish out to international medical patients is how our medical services and equipment are so skilled and technologically advanced at only 50%-80% of the cost that they normally pay in North America and Europe.  If we can just channel whatever funds we reap out of this medical tourism to those who really need it most – the 26.3% of people living below the poverty line in the Philippines today, then the world will be in a better place and there will be less sick people in the Philippines, at least. And more patients will come to the Philippines to avail themselves of world-class medical services and alternative therapies and remedies, care of Dr. Farrah Agustin-Bunch Natural Medical Center.

Medical Tourism is touted to have a bright future, especially when experts say its total revenue value should hit US$439 billion, and that it is expected to grow by 25% year-on-year until 2025.

So, are you convinced about promoting medical tourism in the country now? Share your views in the comments section below!