Taken from: The Korea Times
By Bae Ji-sook, Staff Reporter
The government held a ceremony Tuesday to launch “Medical Korea,” a nation-branding promotional effort to attract patients from overseas to the nation’s top medical facilities.
The Medical Korea campaign aims to draw 400,000 foreign medical tourists per year by 2015, with hospitals expected to make some 370 billion if the campaign is successful.
Economic benefits worth up to 600 billion won for tourism and other related industries could be expected, as well.
At the ceremony at the Grand Hilton Seoul, Health and Welfare Minister Jeon Jae-hee introduced the slogan to the audience, which was comprised of representatives from medical, media and government agencies, including 90 doctors and 260 foreigners.
Minister Jeon said it was time for the country to positively participate in the worldwide medical tourism market, which is estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. “This year, more than 50,000 foreign visitors came to Korea to use our medical care facilities,” Jeon said. “Our Smart Care project, which is part of the Medical Korea campaign, is specifically aimed at helping foreigners enjoy the benefits of our high quality medical services at low costs.”
The campaign is being introduced at a time when local administrations and hospitals are trying to improve their bottom lines. Currently, Korea is only at 90 percent of the level of European countries when it comes to the quality of medical care, said the Korean Academy of Medical Science in a 2005 report.
Singapore’s successful launch of “Singapore Medicine” was benchmarked as a model to promote the affordable but competitive services Korean can offer to the world.
“At the moment, Korea is ahead of the pack in treating gastric cancer and providing cosmetic surgery and aesthetic care,” ministry official Baek Hyung-ki said.
“Medical Korea symbolizes the essence of what we are seeking and the Smart Care program shows our confidence in the adaptation of state-of-the-art skills,” he said.