Health tourists flock to Thailand
THOUSANDS of Gulf citizens and expatriates are flocking to Thailand every year to avail of preventive and curative treatment at some of the world’s best hospital and wellness centres.
Taking full advantage of their high standards and relatively low costs, Thai hospitals, medical clinics and wellness centres are marketing themselves in the Gulf and Middle East countries as perfect places to handle everything from a straight medical checkup to major heart surgery.
“Thailand is renowned the world over for its high quality service and professionalism. People are coming from all over to avail of beauty treatments, meditation classes, physical therapies and cures for all kinds of sicknesses and ailments,” says Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan.
Most of the hospitals are staffed with overseas-trained doctors and a specialist who can ensure that communication is no barrier.
Demand from the Middle East has also led many hospitals and wellness centres to hire Arabic-speaking personnel. National airline Thai Airways International (THAI) also packages medical check-ups as part of its Royal Orchid Holidays programme.
Foreign expatriates, executives of international corporations and embassy staff will all attest to the excellence of hospital treatment here and to its comparatively low cost.
Other hospitals are forging links with local tour operators to develop and market new products and services that will allow patients and their families to take a holiday in Thailand after treatment is complete, says a spokesperson.
One hospital has a department especially for foreigners, staffed with multi-lingual interpreters, highly trained nurses and doctors. Currently, more than 100 nationalities benefit from the excellent international medical standards and the personal service that the hospital offers.
Hospitals are also gearing up to offer assistance in International and Thai health insurance; liaison service for embassies, international institutions and organizations; assistance on preferential room rates at local hotels; catering to special diets, including Western, Japanese and Muslim food; international and local evacuation; repatriation services; and free consultation and medical advice over the Internet.
The quality of in-patient accommodation is also being upgraded with a complete range of accommodation facilities to meet the needs and budgets of all patients, from standard rooms to royal suites. Some of the hospitals offer rooms with such exclusive features as electrically adjustable bed you can self adjust your bed, ensuring you are at your optimum comfort level, cable television with a wide range of channels including English, Bangla, Arabic, French, German and other foreign language programming, guest sofa beds provided in the room for the convenience of friends and family who would like to stay along with the patient and other facilities such as microwave ovens, fridges, personal safes and internet access. Another hospital has also made arrangements to take care of visa extensions in case an over-stay is necessary.
Says the governor, “We are very proud that Thailand’s medical and wellness facilities are being recognised the world over. They complement our growing reputation for spas and preventive treatments.”