Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga, Medical Tourism Council Chairman Dr. Rohan Wijesundera, Lanka Hospitals Chairman Dr. Sarath Paranavitane, Lanka Hospitals Director Keith Bernard, Vascular and Transplant surgeon Professor Mandika Wijeyaratne, Nawaloka Hospitals Director Professor Lal Chandrasena, Central Hospital Director Nihal Ratnayake, Hettigoda Group Director Asoka Hettigoda, Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau Chairman Prema Cooray, Private Secretary to the Minister Lal Rathnayake, Senior Advisor to the Minister Felix Rodrigo and Personal Assistant to the Minister Anne Amaratunga
The inaugural meeting of the Council for the Promotion of Medical Tourism was held with the auspices of Minister of Tourism Development John Amaratunga recently. The meeting was attended by Dr. Rohan Wijesundera, who was appointed as the head of the Council, Lanka Hospitals Chairman Dr. Sarath Paranavitane, Lanka Hospitals Director Keith Bernard, Vascular and Transplant surgeon Professor Mandika Wijeyaratne, Nawaloka Hospitals Ltd. Director Professor Lal Chandrasena, Central Hospital Ltd. Director Nihal Ratnayake, Hettigoda Group Director Asoka Hettigoda, Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau Chairman Prema Cooray, Private Secretary to the Minister Lal Rathnayake, Senior Advisor to the Minister Felix Rodrigo and Personal Assistant to the Minister Anne Amaratunga.
During the meeting, key factors based on the vast untapped potential for medical tourism in Sri Lanka and how the country could benefit from this market was extensively discussed.
The discussion also focused on setting standards, rules and regulations for medical tourism in general in Sri Lanka, the active involvement of the foreign ministry, immigration and embassies and high commissions in Sri Lanka and identifying key medical specialties that can be easily marketed to medical tourists.
It was also decided that the promotion of medical tourism in Sri Lanka will be implemented through strategic marketing and the country’s inclusion in key International trade and tourism fares. Initial planning to hold a medical tourism convention by December 2015/January 2016 with the participation of all stakeholders also took place at the meeting.
The importance of promoting alternative medicine i.e. Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Acupuncture to the western market and promoting western medicine mainly to the Asean region, based on a feasibility study was also discussed.
Medical tourism is the practice where people who live in one country travel to another, in order to receive medical and surgical care for a disease, ailment or to undergo cosmetic procedure.
The market According to Patients Beyond Borders, with the medical travel market growing at a rate of 20% per year, the size is estimated at $ 55.0 billion, based on approximately 11 million cross-border patients worldwide. It is also suggested that medical travellers spend an average of $ 3,500-5,000 per visit, including all medically related costs, cross-border and local transport, in-patient stay and accommodation. More than 10 million people worldwide are travelling abroad for treatment.
A regional cost comparison of treatments on offer in the fields of orthopaedics, dental, cosmetic and renal care versus current US rates.Sources: 2013 MedicalTourism.com, Singapore Ministry of Health, MyMedHoliday
According to Nikko Asset Management, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, India and South Korea have actively promoted their services to international patients since the 1990s having identified medical tourism as an effective way to bring in foreign exchange. Thailand and Singapore were the world’s top two medical destinations since 2012.