Health tourism Chinese style

More and more wealthy Chinese people are flying overseas in search of beautiful faces, clearer eyes and other medical treatments, according to the European Weekly edition of China Daily 1 (7-13 September edition).

Written by journalist Yao Jing, the article reveals that while China is emerging as an important destination among medical tourists for its affordable prices and blending of traditional Chinese treatments and modern medical practices, more Chinese are travelling abroad for better medical procedures, regardless of the cost.

According to Yao Jing `… nearly 60,000 people go abroad annually for healthcare services, especially for anti-ageing therapy, cancer screening, to give birth and to get treatment for chronic diseases …’

In 2006, the figure was just a few thousand.

Twice a month, Li Aobo, a private trip consultant flies 12 hours in each direction to accompany a few clients from Beijing to Clinique Biotonus Bon Port in Switzerland, famed for treating Nelson Mandela in 1992.

On his latest journey, his clients were three women, property entrepreneurs aged around 40. They were seeking treatment for intensive fatigue, burnout and age-related problems. After therapy, Li took them to Lucerne, Geneva and Zurich for shopping and sightseeing.

The lowest price for such a trip is 200,000 yuan (€25,000). Some clients ask for private jets for the journey, which can add 1.5 million yuan to the cost.

Dr Reza Tavaassoli, who was Nelson Mandela’s chief doctor at the Clinique, says: ‘We started with about 50 patients in the first year (six years ago) and now have more than 200 every year.’ He hopes that in the future the clinic will receive up to 500 Chinese clients each year as he sees more of them paying attention to longevity and anti-ageing treatments.

Apart from trips to Switzerland, other travel programmes include diabetes and chiropractic treatment tourism to Germany, major disease screening in Japan and beauty treatment in South Korea.

1. The European edition of China Daily, European Weekly, has been distributed in the UK since December 2010 and is printed in the UK by Newsfax International Ltd, Rainham. It aims ‘to provide a window for China to understand and be understood by the world.’ It’s interesting, but uncritical, and is regarded as a guide to government official policies.

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