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China's Controversial Medical Tourism Raises Major Questions

Travelers Today       By    Sheobi Anne Ramos

Updated: May 05, 2017 05:30 PM EDT

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hainan china, medical tourism in china, China medical tourism
China Medical Tourism
Hainan is considered the Hawaii of China. Now, the government is turning this province into an emerging spot for medical tourism.
(Photo: Euromonitor International/Youtube)

China, one of the countries with the largest economies in the world, is now allotting more than $3.3 billion dollars in a new industry. Their plan? To turn the province of Hainan into a medical tourism destination that will attract health-seeking local patients as well as other patients from abroad.

The need to push China's medical tourism industry is because every year, hundreds of thousands of Chinese locals go abroad just to seek medical treatment for various ailments such as cancer and other deadly diseases. The United States and Japan are popular destinations for this market demand, so the government thought this would be a perfect way to "retain domestic consumption", Bloomberg reports.

Hainan is a beautiful tropical island otherwise known as China's Hawaii. The plan is to spend billions in constructing top-notch health facilities that offer varying services such as traditional medicine, cancer treatment, and even plastic surgery. The hub also promises their would-be guests that they don't have to go overseas to seek the health treatment they need as the hub in Hainan will supply all necessary treatments and drugs that are initially not yet subjected to regulatory approval from China.

According to Travel Pulse, the prospect is really promising. Hainan is not only set to be a world-class medical hub, patients will also get to enjoy the laid-back, tropical feel of the beach as if they're on vacation.

 Constructions have already started last 2013 but the venture poses really serious questions. If all goes bust, the once tourism-friendly Hainan might turn into a ghost town, and of course, there is the question of raking in the best doctors to head their medical facilities. Apparently, "Building health-care capabilities there will require attracting excellent talent to work and live in the pilot zone, and good doctors are already badly needed in China's major cities," said Chen Bo, an associate partner at consultancy McKinsey & Co.

The government is now utilizing all means to fulfill all the requirements needed to turn this venture into a success, such as speeding up the relatively slow drug approval in the country. A local newspaper already called Hainan as "an emerging medical tourism hot spot" after a Russian family said positive comments about getting treated for back pain using acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicine.

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