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Cebu: A Medical Tourism Destination

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CebuToist Temple

Cebu Taoist Temple and Medical Tourism

The Cebu Medical Tourism initiative took shape from Executive Order 372 issued by the Philippine President, creating the private sector task force for the development of globally competitive Philippine service industries. The Department of Trade and Industry, in coordination with the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Finance, the Tariff Commission and the Bureau of Customs, was given the task to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations to implement the Executive Order.

The factors favoring medical tourism in the Philippines are as follows; 1)rising cost of healthcare in the US, UK, Canada, and Europe; 2)long waiting period in Europe; 3)ease and affordability of international

travel; 4)improved medical technology in developing countries; 5)affordable health care in developing  countries and 6) fun and relaxation in an exotic destination.

Historical Background

Initially, on March 28, 2007, a consultative meeting was called by DTI-Cebu and  Philexport-Cebu with stakeholders from selected service sectors to explore areas of common interest and where possible collaboration may be established. During the meeting the following major points were noted:

  • The need to have partnership with hotel and hospital and travel agency
  • Cebu is equally capable, comparable with other global providers, with beaches for tourists
  • Cebuanos speak good English
  • There is a need to redefine the goals of DOT hospital accreditation and the role of DTI
  • Some Cebu hospitals are recognized and accredited by US-based insurance companies, with request to perform procedures for their client.
  • Most hospitals are getting international clients by word of mouth
  • Cebu hospitals can offer “3 choice-menue” to its patients like other first class hospitals in Manila

On May 9, 2007, a meeting with Cebu City tertiary hospitals was held by the Department of Tourism (DOT)- Region VII Accreditation Section to iron out the Rules and Regulations Governing the Accreditation of Tertiary Hospitals for Medical Tourism.

Finally, the organization of Cebu Health and Wellness Council augurs well the needed changes to fully implement the medical tourism industry in Cebu, with the following services being offered, to wit: 1)medical, 2) surgical, 3)dental, 4)optical, 5)drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation, 6) traditional and alternative medicine and 7) Health and Wellness.

 A comparative advantage on human resources are as follows; 1) personnel are well trained, highly skilled, fluent in English and with postgraduate training in the US, UK, Australia, Japan, etc. with  behavioral advantage being compassionate and caring.

On economics, the comparative advantage are 1)favorable currency exchange, 2)significant price differential of healthcare services, and 3)competitive healthcare market. Finally, Cebu has exotic locales, varied tourist spots and eco-, beach-, heritage-, bio-, aqua-tourism.

Why Cebu?

Cebu is nestled in the middle of the Philippines, with a total population of more than 3 million, 800,000 of which is living in Cebu City. It consists of 167 islets and islands of idyllic sandy beaches and pristine blue waters.

According to Henry J. Schumacher, Executive Vice President, European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines: “Cebu is a top location for Medical tourism”. Dr. Ed Gatchalian, President of Philippine College of Surgeons on his part declared: “Cebu has already acquired state-of-the-art medical facilities”.

Cebu city is the Queen City of the South. It is a strategic location ideal for those who want to come over and for those who wish to travel to other islands and provinces. It is a major route for both interisland and international travel by plane, boat (including ro-ro ) or bus.

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