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Singapore sees 20% year-on year rise in medical tourists from Middle East since 2006

Common procedures and treatments undertaken by ME visitors include live donor liver transplants, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), heart procedures, stem cell transplantations and cancer treatments.

"Middle East populations are realising the benefits of travelling to Singapore for a wide range of medical procedures, which has resulted in year-on-year double-digit growth in the number of regional healthcare tourists opting for Singapore," said Jason Ong, Area Director for the Middle East and Africa, STB.

In 2000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Singapore as having the best health system in Asia and the sixth best health system in the world, out of 191 countries, higher than the US and Canada. Clinical data collated by Singapore hospitals shows that the quality of care on offer in Singapore remains equal to, if not better than, that delivered in US hospitals.

Notably, Singapore's Gleneagles Hospital, under the ParkwayHealth network, has achieved significant results in live donor liver transplant at their Asian Centre for Liver Diseases and Transplantation, the first fully integrated centre for liver transplant in Asia. It successfully performed the first adult-adult living donor liver transplant in South East Asia in 2002.

To date, the hospital's liver transplant team has undertaken more than 150 live donor liver transplantations, with an overall one-year survival rate of 80% and a three- year survival rate of 90%, which compares favourably with international (US) standards of about 80% to 90%.

The mortality rate for coronary artery by-pass graft (CABG) at ParkwayHealth was 1.6% (non-risk adjusted including both primary and repeat CABG procedures) in 2008, compared with a mortality rate of 1.9% reported by a world-class hospital in the US.

Singapore has 13 hospitals and specialty centres catering for medical travellers that have received international accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), which certifies international standards of care.

"Middle East patients can be certain that they will receive the highest quality of treatment and follow-up care in Singapore, which has repeatedly shown to be on par with the best in the world. Middle East visitors can be certain that their cultural and religious needs are attended to with Arabic-speaking service personnel, Halal food and even Arabic TV channels, during their hospital stay," Ong added.

"With a world-class healthcare system combined with a superb eco-system for follow-up care, family members will also have peace of mind when their loved ones undergo treatment in Singapore," Ong concluded.

Case Study:
Thirteen year-old Abdulhameed Sogra, from Bahrain suffered from sickle cell anaemia, and travelled to Singapore with his family for specialist medical care just over a year ago after exhausting all treatment options in his home country.

Abdulhameed underwent a successful stem cell transplant which has resulted in full remission of his disease, thanks to Dr. Anselm Lee, Medical Director and Consultant at the Children's Haemotology and Cancer Centre, ParkwayHealth.

"My Abdulhameed is fine and chirpy now but I know the pain and suffering he has gone through," said his mother Madam Sogra. "I am very grateful to Dr. Lee for giving us this alternative treatment option and my family owes him and everyone at Mount Elizabeth Hospital for giving him a new lease of life," she added.