It is an embrace of the heart… yes, and the heart is of the Filipino people who are world renowned for their caring, warmth, and most delicious hospitality. This big hug is from the collective of medical professionals and executives of the tourism and hospitality industry converging in Manila for the third annual summit, “Embracing Health & Wellness in the Heart of Asia.”
This important international event, organized by the Philippines’ Department of Tourism and held on October 22-25, 2008, markets the Philippines’ October Health and Wellness Tourism Month.
Organized by Undersecretary of Tourism Ms. Cynthia Carrion, this program, held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel, was not a gathering of medical gurus presenting their platitudes, but brought together some of the world’s best known doctors, medical experts, research scientists, and alternative practitioners who introduced to the assembled delegates, from dozens of countries, the cutting-edge treatments and protocols including important, time-tested, effective, traditional, healing therapies of present and ancient cultures.
A most important part of this well-attended conclave was “wellness tourism.” It is important to differentiate that “wellness tourism” is truly different from “medical tourism.”
In Merriam-Webster, “wellness” is described as: 1. the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal and 2. a lifestyle that promotes wellness.
Most conventional medical doctors are sought out when the patient is sick, and it is the symptoms of the illness diagnosed that is generally treated by these medical doctors. Alternative practitioners, on the other hand, work to create wellness and continue a state of wellness for the patient. Another difference is that that the alternative practitioners treats the patient as a “whole person,” that is holistically, and by determining the root cause of the illness, not just symptoms, the practitioners sets about to cure the illness bringing about a balance in the body by treating the patient in total – mind, body, and spirit as a whole – thus holistic medicine is coming from the basis of wellness.
There are apparently big differences between Wellness Tourism and Medical Tourism and to give more insights about these rising industries and the upcoming conference, we caught up with Dr. Noah McKay, author of Wellness at Warp Speed, and a key speaker at the conference.
“Wellness tourism,” said Dr. McKay, “offers people everywhere the opportunity to schedule their annual physical exams and receive state-of-the-art information and medical care in the fields of anti-aging and preventive medicine. The best part of this is they can get their education and medical evaluations from an internationally-recognized team of physicians at leading destination hotels and spas in several countries. Wellness tourism focuses on preventing disease, while medical tourism relies on the treatment of the disease, usually through surgical intervention.”
Thousands of medical tourists travel each year to India, China, Thailand, and yes, the Philippines, to have their coronary, by-pass operations and joint-replacement surgeries. The principal driving force in medical tourism, of course, is the high cost of care. The cost of an open-heart, coronary, by-pass operation in New York City is US$55,000 compared to $US11,000 in Delhi, India. With 40 million uninsured Americans and a tumbling economy, the surgical and medical services in Asia will continue to look more and more attractive to both medical and wellness tourists.
The $40 billion medical, tourism industry is growing in leaps and bounds, and it is clear the Philippines does not want to be left behind.
Dr. McKay and his team at Q Health Retreats traveled to and evaluated more than a dozen countries to identify suitable locations for their wellness retreats. With the support and close collaboration of the Philippines Department of Tourism and the Department of Health, Q Health will begin offering its 4-day and 10-day, wellness, tourism retreats in the Philippines beginning in January 2009.
“It takes vision and a deeper commitment to preventative and wellness medicine to make wellness tourism a reality in the Philippines”, said Dr. McKay. “Without the 100 percent support of Ace Durano, Secretary of Tourism; Cynthia Carrion, Undersecretary of Tourism; and Dr. Jade Delmundo, Undersecretary of the Department of Health, Q Health Retreats will not have been launched in the Philippines. The Philippines has over 35 Department of Tourism, accredited hotels and spas; several, world-class, internationally-recognized and credentialed hospitals; and a highly-skilled, bilingual, medical work force. Combine all that with the over 7,000 beautiful, wellness islands, and it is easy to see why many are saying the Philippines can be the next wellness tourism capital of the world.”
Conventional medicine, as defined by all the medical procedures and surgeries we experience at our finest hospitals, has not answered the healthcare needs of people in this century. Less than 10 percent of the population of our planet has direct access to the wonders of modern, medicine drugs; hospital care; and surgery. CT and MRI scanners and the latest pharmaceutical drugs and surgical procedures save lives, but their high costs have made conventional medicine both unaffordable and inaccessible.
Dr. McKay, a former US surgeon, said modern, hospital-based, conventional medicine is costly, inequitable, and entirely undemocratic in its approach to solving the healthcare needs of people today. “We need to re-invent a new wellness-based medicine that incorporates the new science [and] high technology and at the same time is affordable and reproducible. ”
A reputable study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that 90 percent of diseases are preventable. It is easier and less costly to prevent disease than to treat it. Wellness medicine is gearing up to do just that, and the Philippines is offering a serious opportunity to launch a real solution to healthcare needs in this century today.
We took a sneak preview of Q Health Retreat’s 4-day wellness program scheduled at Tagaytay Highlands for January 2009. Each of the 30 lucky guests (no one referred to as a patient here) will have an opportunity to meet privately with 5 doctors and 5 anti-aging specialists, listen to eight lectures on wellness techniques, and get scanned by a quantum computer that detects over 9,000 physiologic variables and detects many diseases.
The Anti-aging/Detox panel also includes measuring and balancing the body’s eight hormones (DHEA, Cortisol, Progesterone, Testosterone, T3, T4, Estrogens), and eliminating the top 20 toxins (Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, etc.) from the body. The elective, weight-loss program is the only physician- sponsored program in the world that uses HCG-hormone to bring about fast, permanent, weight loss. Q Health’s 96-hour wellness retreat is touted as the world’s most complete physical-mental-spiritual exam and evaluation. The staff of Q Health is comprised of physicians, specialists, nurses, and bio-technicians from the Philippines and the United States.