SINGAPORE (Sept 17): The global medical tourism industry was valued at US$100 billion in 2016 by Medical Tourism Magazine. According to Deloitte, the industry has been growing at 17.9% annually since 2013. Increasing spending on healthcare continues apace, in tandem with the rise in the global ageing population and lifestyle-related diseases. Medical tourism is a trend that has developed on the back of a growing disparity in medical costs between different countries. The idea of visiting a foreign country also adds to the appeal of medical tourism. A July 2012 publication by the University of Malaya found that similar medical procedures in Asia cost 6% to 33% less than in the US.
Medical tourism in the Asean region is a growing trend for several reasons: quality and depth in medical personnel, pleasant climate and tourist attractions. Singapore was fourth in ranking in the 2016 World Medical Tourism Index. Malaysia was awarded the Destination of the Year from 2015 to 2017 by the International Medical Travel Journal. The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council also received an award from IMTJ for the first time last year — it was recognised for its efforts in organising health and medical tourism clusters.