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Medical Tourism Creates Thai Doctor Shortage

by Jon Hamilton ,  All Things Considered, NPR | 2007-11-29

Millions of people come to Bangkok for medical care. They get everything from face-lifts to heart-bypass operations. These medical tourists have helped boost the Thai economy, but there's a downside. Doctors in Thailand have become so busy with foreigners that Thai patients are having trouble getting care.

When medical tourists come to Bangkok, they usually go to places like Bumrungrad Hospital. It's a private facility, downtown, near the fancy hotels. It has a sushi bar, interpreters who speak Arabic and Mandarin, and VIP suites with marble bathrooms.

Most Thais can't afford it. They're more likely go across town to Siriraj Hospital, along the banks of the Chao Phraya River.

Doctors in Demand

Siriraj was founded by the royal family more than a century ago to provide free care to the Thai people. It treats more than 2


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