S. Korean medical institutes with overseas operations nearly doubles in 4 yrs

The number of South Korean medical institutes with overseas facilities or operations nearly doubled in just four years, a government report showed Monday.

According to the report from the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), the number of medical institutes with foreign operations reached 91 at the end of last year, up 85 percent from 49 at end-2009.

The 2012 figure also marks a 28 percent growth from the previous year, it added. Of the total, the largest number of 31 organizations had operations in China, followed by 23 institutes with operations in the United States. Altogether, the 91 medical institutes had facilities or ongoing operations in 16 countries that also included Vietnam, Mongolia and Russia, the report said.

Such growth in overseas operations of the country's medical institutes was apparently helped partly by government efforts to develop the country's medical tourism industry, which seeks to increase the number of foreign patients coming to the country for medical treatment.

Under such efforts, the number of foreigners using medical services in the country jumped 27.3 percent from a year earlier to more than 155,672 last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said earlier.

"The institute, together with the health ministry, will seek to create friendlier environments for South Korean medical institutes in other countries this year through close cooperation with the government of host nations," an official from the KHIDI said.

Philippines News agency