The Jakarta Post
The government is mulling over a plan to develop “medical tourism” in the country in a bid to provide high quality health care to the public and create a new source of national income in one swift stroke.
Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister spokesman Jodi Mahardi said such a move could potentially bolster the country’s medical independence.
“Based on a report by PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers], 600,000 Indonesians sought medical treatment overseas in 2015 – the most in the world,” Jodi said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Patients in general prefer overseas health care, citing lackluster domestic medical services related to the treatment of certain diseases.”
He went on to say that the development of medical tourism in Indonesia was not only feasible, but also highly lucrative given the steady increase in the number of medical tourists around the globe.
Indonesia’s Southeast Asian neighbors, such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, have already developed medical tourism in their respective countries.
Thailand, for instance, recorded a total of 2.29 million medical tourists and US$6.9 billion in income courtesy of the sector in 2016, Jodi said.
Medical tourism, he added, could also serve as a catalyst for job creation and a more diversified economy in the country.
With such a goal, the government has mulled over a plan to build international hospitals staffed with highly trained health professionals from other countries, in collaboration with related state departments and organizations, such as the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI).
“The doctors that will be brought to Indonesia will only be specialists that the country is still lacking. They will work in tandem with local doctors,” Jodi said.
"That way, Indonesians will be able to get better medical treatment and more foreign tourists will come to the country for treatment."
The plan to develop medical tourism in the country has been years in the making.
In 2017, the Tourism Ministry and the Health Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of medical and health tourism, which was touted as a flagship of special interest tourism.
Indonesia has been among the largest contributors to medical tourism in its neighboring countries. According to the CIMB ASEAN Research Institute, Indonesians spent around US$11.5 billion annually on health care abroad, mostly in Malaysia.