The Government of Thailand is implementing a strategy to make it a world-class medical hub in the region, especially high-end services, and to boost the country’s medical tourism sector.

The four-year strategy covers four pillars of medical treatment - healthcare, traditional medicine and medical products, especially oriental medicines. It aims to encourage local clinics and healthcare units to improve their services and competitiveness.

According to recent data released by the Ministry of Health, more than 2 million foreign patients travelled to Thailand in hope to access better health services, particularly cosmetic surgery, in 2012. The majority came from Japan, the US, China, the UK, Germany and the Middle East.

The Government has implemented a 90-day visa scheme for six countries in the Gulf region in a recent move to make it easier for citizens from these nations to enter Thailand for the sake of health services.

In another move towards the formation of the ASEAN Community by 2015, Thai health officials have been introducing health service reforms to ensure the effective use of investment. Accordingly, 50 hospitals in the border areas will be upgraded to meet the surge in medical tourists from neighbouring countries flocking to Thailand for treatment.-VNA