Global Health Asia-Pacific May 2022 May 2022 - Page 39

The Philippines to join the ranks competing for medical tourism
The government is leading efforts to attract more tourists , especially from Japan
ASEAN to launch mutual recognition of vaccination certificates
The Southeast Asian grouping finds common ground to facilitate cross-country connections

The countries of ASEAN have agreed to mutually accept vaccination certificates from other members as a way to streamline cross-border travel and restore connectivity and cooperation within the group .

“ All COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates issued by the ASEAN Member States will have a secure QR code digitally signed to protect it against falsification ”, and the verification process can be done through the ASEAN universal verification mechanism or others based on the guidelines of the World Health Organization , reads a joint statement put out by ASEAN health ministers .
Malaysia Deputy Health Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang said the system could also potentially help nations still without a COVID-19 vaccination verification system , according to The Star .
During the same meeting , Malaysia also supported the creation of the Asean Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases , which aims to beef up regional preparedness to prevent and respond to public health emergencies and new diseases .
The Deputy Health Minister added that Malaysia would lead the Project for Strengthening Laboratory Capacity on COVID-19 Bio Genomic for ASEAN countries , which involves the sequencing of COVID-19 strains to detect potential future mutations that could make the virus more contagious or deadly .
“ It is hoped that this initiative will steer ASEAN in the recovery from COVID-19 ,” he said .

The country ’ s Department of Tourism ( DOT ) plans to boost healthcare travel by marketing the Philippines in the global market and beefing up the healthcare system .

“ We see so much untapped potential in the health and wellness industry . With world-class hospitals and facilities , skilled doctors and nurses , and the Filipino brand of hospitality , the Philippines is poised to become an attractive destination for medical tourism ,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat , according to the Philippine News Agency .
She added that one goal was to develop a “ network of facilities ” to tackle concerns and issues related to medical tourism , while the country ’ s hosting of the WTTC Global Summit in April , which more than 1,200 delegates attended , showed the nation maintained gold standard approaches even during a pandemic .
Last March , a DOT delegation visited Japan to meet with tourism stakeholders , like the Japan Association of Travel Agents , and promote the Philippines as a safe destination since its reopening on February 10 .
During the visit , Romulo-Puyat touted the country ’ s high vaccination rate among tourism workers and its simplified entry requirements , with no quarantine or testing upon arrival . She also introduced a new programme for Japanese travellers that allows them to get COVID-19 vaccine boosters at popular tourist destinations , enabling them to travel back to Japan without being quarantined on arrival .
Before the pandemic , Japanese travellers were the fourth largest national group visiting the Philippines , with almost 700,000 tourists in 2019 . Between February 10 and March 20 , the country saw 2,125 travellers from Japan .
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