Phuket seeks budget for health complex

Phuket seeks budget for health complex

PHUKET: The island's administration is waiting for the Public Health Ministry to approve its request for a 343-million-baht budget to prepare for the construction of the province's international medical tourism complex, director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, Chalermphong Sukontapol, said yesterday.

Once the request is approved by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, it will still need to be endorsed by the cabinet before the budget can be disbursed, Dr Chalermpong said.

On March 25, the government's medical tourism board approved the proposal to earmark 343 million baht for the complex. The project was first approved during a mobile cabinet meeting on Nov 2-3 last year.

About 1.4 billion baht more will be needed for the actual construction of the complex and its supporting facilities, and the cost will be covered by a joint investment between the government and the private sector, Dr Chalermpong added.

The medical tourism and health services complex will be a part of the province's tourism appeal, the hospital director said, before adding the project also offers investment opportunities and create new jobs, which will stimulate Phuket's economy, as well as the country's.

Dr Chalermpong predicted that the medical tourism complex will initially attract around 50,000 tourists in 2023, but the number is projected to double within a year and possibly reach one million in 2026.

The complex is expected to generate some 2.5 billion baht in its first year after opening, but we are optimistic that it will generate around 50 billion baht in 2026, he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted Phuket's economy, which heavily relies on the millions of tourists that come to visit each year. With thousands of people out of a job as a result, the province is working hard to salvage its economy by repositioning the island as a world-class destination for health tourism.

The proposed international medical tourism complex will be built on a 141-rai plot of land in tambon Mai Khao, Thalang district.

In the first phase of the project's implementation, four medical centres will be built -- a general health centre, an international seniors care facility, a cardiac centre as well as a centre for physical rehabilitation and anti-ageing, Dr Chalermpong said.

In the second phase, three more centres will be built at a cost of 1.6 billion baht, including the new Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute headquarters, a tropical diseases institute and the Andaman cancer centre, he said.

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