Medical Tourism On The Rise

by Park Yu-mi ,  korea joongang daily | 2012-05-11

A 17-year-old patient named Mohammed from Abu Dhabi was busy yesterday preparing himself to be discharged from Seoul National Hospital in Jongno District, central Seoul.

Coming all the way from the capital of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates with his 46-year-old father Ismail, Mohammed received an operation last Thursday at the Seoul hospital to remove a 7-centimeter-long (2.7-inch) tumor inside his nose. His upper lip was slightly swollen from the operation, but he looked healthy.

“I feel good now that it’s become easier to breathe,” he said.

An increasing number of overseas patients like Mohammed are choosing Korea as a destination to receive medical treatments at local hospitals.

In particular, oil money is flowing into Korea following an agreement signed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi in November, last year.

The so-called “patient treatment agreement” offers Abu Dhabi citizens the opportunity to receive treatments at four major hospitals including the Samsung Medical Center, St. Mary’s Hospital, Asan Medical Center and Seoul National University Hospital.

Abu Dhabi’s health authority officially sends 3,000 citizens abroad every year for overseas medical treatments in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Korea. The government pays for all fees.

According to industry sources, Abu Dhabi and Dubai patients spend 300 million won ($263,019) per person for a liver transplant and 200 million won for a kidney transplant.

Over the past five months, five patients from Abu Dhabi received surgeries in Korea, including a liver transplant.

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