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Santhosh V Perumal
Singapore has witnessed an average 20% jump in medical tourists from the Middle East region since 2006, according to official figures.
The figures collated by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) showed about 1,000 healthcare tourists from the Middle Eastern countries arrived in Singapore around the same number as US medical care travellers – putting both destinations amongst the top markets for overall number of healthcare tourists visiting the Garden City.
Common procedures and treatments undertaken by the Middle Eastern visitors include live donor liver transplants, in-vitro fertilisation, heart procedures, stem cell transplantations and cancer treatments.
“Middle East populations are realising the benefits of travelling to Singapore for a wide range of medical procedures, which has resulted in year-on-year double-digit growth in the number of regional healthcare tourists opting for Singapore,” said Jason Ong, area director for the Middle East and Africa, STB.
In 2000, the World Health Organisation ranked Singapore as having the best health care system in Asia and the sixth best healthcare system in the world, out of 191 countries, higher than the US and Canada.
Clinical data collated by Singapore hospitals shows that the quality of care on offer in Singapore remains equal to, if not better than, that delivered in US hospitals.
Singapore has 13 hospitals and specialty centres that have received international accreditation from the Joint Commission International, which certifies international standards of care.
“Middle East patients can be certain that they will receive the highest quality of treatment and follow-up care in Singapore, which has repeatedly shown to be on par with the best in the world,” Ong said.
He said the Middle East visitors could be certain that their cultural and religious needs were attended to with Arabic-speaking service personnel, Halal food and even Arabic TV channels, during their hospital stay.