Indonesia want to create a new national revenue stream that will deliver quality medical care to its citizens as well as international guests with the governments announcement that its setting up a task-force to determine how it can create a national medical tourism industry.
According to officials from the Ministry of Health, more than 600,000 Indonesians went abroad for medical treatment – the most in the world, because patients in general prefer overseas health care, stating that the believe that certain medical services in the country are not as advanced as international medical services.
Jodi Mahardi, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment said that developing Indonesian ‘medical tourism’ sector could potentially bolster the country’s medical independence and 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.
Other countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have systematically expanded their marketing for international medical tourism for more than 10-years and continue to develop and expand medical tourism in their countries. As one example, Thailand reported 2.29 million medical tourists and US $6.9 billion in income in 2016.
According to the report "A Prescription For A Healthier Economy" by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), spending on medical tourism products and services grew by 358% in nominal terms between 2000 and 2017, increasing from US$2.4 billion (72.5 billion baht) to $11 billion.
Jodi, the government spokesman said that medical tourism could also serve as a catalyst for job creation and a more diversified economy in the country, the government has reviewing and discussing a plan to build international hospitals in the country that would be staffed with highly trained health professionals from other countries.
The government’s plan is being discussed internally with various departments and organizations, such as the Indonesian Doctors Association. The plan being discussed envisions that “Doctors that will be brought to Indonesia will be specialists that the country is still lacking and would work in tandem with local doctors. This way, Indonesians will be able to get better medical treatment and more foreign tourists will come to the country for treatment.”
A plan to develop medical tourism in the country was first discussed in 2017 when the Tourism Ministry and the Health Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of medical and health tourism.
The economics of medical tourism are massive, with an estimated $11.5 billion USD spent by Indonesia’s each year on health care abroad, with Malaysia being the #1 destination for Indonesia citizens.