MARIVELES, Bataan – The Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) is looking to attract investments in medical tourism at the free port zone here, intending to capitalize on its natural environment that is conducive to healing and the growing health facilities in the area.
AFAB Chairman Emmanuel Pineda said that the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) is now one of the best zones in the country for the development of the healthcare industry.
“Healthcare presents an opportunity for eco-zones like the FAB where the medical tourism angle can be built on,” he said.
“In particular, given that a sizable bulk of healthcare costs account to rehabilitation and not just operation, rehabilitation can be done in the FAB even when the latter is done in Manila,” the chairman added, noting that the freeport’s nice beaches, clean air and lower costs would be attractive to the foreign market.
“Foreign firms can also manufacture healthcare equipment in the FAB,” he stressed.
Chairman Pineda made the statement after noting that medical tourism is poised to continue growing globally in the next few years.
He said that while medical tourism is still an infant industry in the Philippines, the country can attract foreign investors engaged in health-related businesses.
The Philippines is recognized as one of Asia’s most advanced nations in the field of healthcare, with many leading hospitals in the country already accredited by international standardization organizations.
Pineda also noted that recent projection has placed the Philippine medical tourism will be more than a $3-billion industry by 2017, with an average of around 200,000 foreign patients expected to come to the Philippines every year.
Pineda said this bodes well with the Bataan free port as the AFAB, in coordination with the provincial government of Bataan, is currently preparing to operate the first hospital in the Bataan free port with high-end medical equipment donated by GN Power Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. Co. and the Philippine Minnesotan Medical Association.
“The first Mariveles Hospital will ensure that the medical needs and requirements of potential and existing investors in the FAB will be attended to,” Pineda also said.
Pineda stressed that while the Freeport Area of Bataan has long been promoted as the fashion manufacturing hub of the Philippines, it can also diversify to other industries like medical tourism.
The FAB, he added, is envisioned to be the free port of choice in the country by 2020, becoming a center of trade, innovation and sustainable development in Asia and promoting work-life balance, global competitiveness and environmental protection. – HENRY EMPEÑO