Philippines Department of Tourism refutes faith healing for medical tourism


The Department of Tourism (DOT) and Health and Wellness Alliance of the Philippines (HEAL Philippines) would like to make it clear to all Filipinos and the international community that, in keeping with official government policy and in solidarity with the Department of Health (DOH), WE DO NOT PROMOTE NOR ESPOUSE the use of so-called “quack doctors” nor “faith healers” in treating illnesses. Contrary to some reports that came out in the newspapers recently, neither HEAL Philippines, the Department of Tourism nor the Department of Health have at any time recommended that patients, both local and international, go to people without proper licenses to practice medicine for treatment of their illnesses.

Reports to the contrary resulted from a misunderstanding of statements made by Department of Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano to a few of our friends and colleagues in the media. In order to avoid further misunderstanding between the various agencies, media entities, stakeholders in the tourism, health and wellness sectors, as well as the general public, we would like to make the following official clarification:

HEAL Philippines in partnership with the Department of Tourism, the Department of Health and the top medical institutions and wellness organizations in the Philippines, are promoting overall, holistic health. “Holistic” means an approach to health that addresses the needs and wellbeing of body, mind and spirit. This approach is more complete and treats a patient like a whole person—not simply a piece of biological or organic machinery that needs to be fixed when its parts are broken or worn out. Such an approach offers treatments that target a person’s physiology, psychology and spirituality.

When the good Tourism Secretary mentioned “holistic medical tourism packages” and "spiritual healing" to well-known and popular destinations in the Philippines, he NEVER

meant that local and foreign patients would be taken for treatments to so-called “quack doctors”, “healers” or other unlicensed and unqualified practitioners. Unfortunately, his words were taken out of context and a very different, very erroneous message was conveyed.

“Contrary to what people have been talking about, we do not encourage foreigners to visit the Philippines for them to be cured of their illnesses through these so-called faith healers. While we recognize that this is practiced in some parts of our country, it is crucial to emphasize that our medical and wellness tourism program includes only those that have undergone strict quality accreditation with the Department of Health,” says Sec. Durano.

The “healing” that these medical and wellness tourism packages are meant to achieve is more for the psychological and spiritual burdens that a patient may be afflicted with, along with the physical symptoms of an illness. An illness, especially a serious one, causes stress, distress, as well as psychological or even spiritual suffering. Filipinos, who are a people of great faith and have great care and compassion for others, have set apart traditional pilgrimage sites offer a respite for patients, addressing their psychological and spiritual needs.

“Being a predominantly Christian nation, we’re also identified with our deep spirituality. It’s not unusual to see the medical staff of a hospital, and even priests and nuns, praying for someone who is ill. It just goes to show how caring we really are, and that we employ “holistic healing” for the body, mind and soul. This is exactly the kind of “holistic healing” that HEAL Philippines is advocating,” says Joyce Alumno, Secretary General of HEAL Philippines.

HEAL Philippines and the Department of Tourism also reiterate that kidney transplantation is NOT being promoted as part of medical tourism in the Philippines. This is in line with the official policy of the Department of Health.

The DOT and DOH have great respect and great faith in the professionalism, knowledge, competence and skills of our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. It is a known fact that Filipino health professionals are in great demand locally and overseas for these exact attributes. So when it comes to treating illnesses and other debilitating physical conditions, there should be no doubt that the DOT and the DOH are promoting our duly licensed, duly accredited and world-class medical professionals.

Proof of this is the fact that both the Department of Tourism and Department of Health are fully supporting efforts to help Philippine hospitals and other medical facilities gain proper international accreditation. As more and more of our medical facilities gain such recognition, the more the world will realize just how competent our medical professionals are—and how apart from their knowledge, skills and expertise, they are also able to give the kind of care that Filipinos are famous for throughout the world.

“What makes the Philippines distinct and exceptional as an international healthcare destination compared to other countries is that not only do we have topnotch medical facilities and wellness centers—Filipino medical professionals are also known to be naturally warm, friendly and compassionate,” says Undersecretary Cynthia Carrion, who heads the DOT’s Office for Sports and Wellness.

As proof to DOT's unwavering commitment to promote the Philippines as a global healthcare destination, the Philippines will be hosting the International Summit on Medical Travel, Wellness and Retirement (IMWell Summit) in October 2010, setting the stage in presenting the global state of healthcare as a result of people crossing international borders in search for total healing and wellness. This prestigious event will be a convergence of healthcare, hospitality and travel industry leaders, as well as policymakers from different governments and agency bodies--all coming together to integrate various healthcare delivery models, systems and global benchmarks for an efficient, productive and equitable delivery of healthcare across nations and societies.

Moreover, the DOT is also sponsoring the surveyors of Accreditation Canada (AC) who will assess various healthcare organizations in the Philippines. AC will be reviewing our hospitals and clinics, enabling us to raise the quality of our healthcare system. This is one big leap to take for our healthcare sector not just in driving the growth of medical tourism in our country, but more importantly, in improving the overall state of Philippine healthcare.

We hope that this clarification assures the general public, the international community and the stakeholders in our medical, tourism and wellness sectors, and dispels any doubt created by an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Author / Source

HIM Communications




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