Indonesia announces plans to develop medical tourism industry
In a bid to create a new source of national income and to deliver quality medical care to its citizens, Indonesia’s government is considering developing a national medical tourism industry.
According to the government official, 600,000 Indonesians sought medical treatment overseas – the most in the world, because patients in general prefer overseas health care, citing lackluster domestic medical services related to the treatment of certain diseases.
Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister spokesman Jodi Mahardi said developing Indonesian ‘medical tourism’ sector could potentially bolster the country’s medical independence.
He went on to say that the development of medical tourism in Indonesia was not only feasible, but also highly lucrative given the steady increase in the number of medical tourists around the globe.
Indonesia’s Southeast Asian neighbors, such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, have already developed medical tourism in their respective countries.
Thailand, for instance, recorded a total of 2.29 million medical tourists and US$6.9 billion in income courtesy of the sector in 2016, Jodi said.
Medical tourism, he added, could also serve as a catalyst for job creation and a more diversified economy in the country.
With such a goal, the government has mulled over a plan to build international hospitals staffed with highly trained health professionals from other countries, in collaboration with related state departments and organizations, such as the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI).
“The doctors that will be brought to Indonesia will only be specialists that the country is still lacking. They will work in tandem with local doctors,” Jodi said.
“That way, Indonesians will be able to get better medical treatment and more foreign tourists will come to the country for treatment.”
The plan to develop medical tourism in the country has been years in the making.
In 2017, the Tourism Ministry and the Health Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of medical and health tourism, which was touted as a flagship of special interest tourism.
Indonesia has been among the largest contributors to medical tourism in its neighboring countries. According to the CIMB ASEAN Research Institute, Indonesians spent around US$11.5 billion annually on health care abroad, mostly in Malaysia.