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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  March 30, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm PDT

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singapore is one of the asia's post popular urban centers, attracting 16 million tourists every year. one in 20 of those are medical tourists. top local and foreign doctors use the latest medical equipment
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to treat disease here. the world health organization ranks the world's health systems and singapore is number one in asia. >> i get my training in america, and i became a cancer specialist. >> launched a national campaign to promote medical tourism in 2003. now 21 hospitals that compete at a global level. all welcome foreign patients. >> singapore has always been renowned for the expertise here of, we believe what we have in indones indonesia. >> in 2014, a new facility opened based around an entirely new concept.
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a collaboration between a group of top flight doctors, and a five star hotel, provides a rare, new offering in medical tourist services. singapore's government has also been investing huge sums in order to position the country as an asian medical hub. research and development being carried out in a range of fields to help singapore lead the way in medicine. computer scientists part of the innovation effort. >> put this together, we would be able to make an impact and a difference into a medical hub. >> we want it to be -- >> we explore significant's strategy to shape the future of the medical
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jim wayne tan introduces foreign patients to doctors in singapore. >> based on the patient's condition, you know, the type of treatment that they are receiving in the past or you know, what the previous doctor has, you know, told them, we can choose a hospital where the right doctor for them practices. >> this is chin's office. there are a number of such medical tourism agencies in singapore. he has 15 staff, who handle every aspect of a patient's trip. they recommend doctors, create treatment plans. apply for visas, arrange hotel and plane tickets. sort out airport pickups and
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dropoffs and even companions for hospital visits. they handle around 1,000 clients a year. a few days ago, they sent a private plane to bangladesh to pick up an emergency patient. once a patient arrives, chen's staff are on hand for every aspect of their care. many of the agencies' clients are wealthy patients from neighbors indonesia, an executive from an auto distribute tore has arrived with his family. >> he has got a heart failure disease. yeah, so it's quite, quite risky and that's why we have to use
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the best doctor and the best hospital for his treatment. >> the patient has an extremely weak heart, and suffered heart failure. he had a major operation here two months ago, and is back again today for a postoperative exam. he currently has a ventricular assist device and pacemaker installed. the operation was performed by dr. jimmy lynn, who was recommended by chin's company. a cardiac surgeon, dr. lin studied at uk university and honed his skills at a hospital in the u.s. >> i think it's because he is not moving his arm and so it's more muscular.
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>> oh okay. >> most people whr, when we put pacemaker in there, it becomes like a frozen shoulder. the more you pull like this, yeah. >> okay. thank you. >> okay, thank you. >> so glad to see you. >> the checkup shows the patient is doing chin's company was set up in 1996. it was an early player before the singapore government turned its attention to medical tourism. it was established by chin's mother, vivian, beginning at a solo operation. it has grown over time. four years ago, she handed over the reigns to her son. but she sees problems in singapore's medical tourism now.
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>> i would say expensive. it really cannot be much cheaper cost. you go to hospital, so clean. you and the doctors are always traveling to upgrade themselves, and then not only the medical expenses, but the hotel, the food. so i think expensive, the cost of the medical treatment is a challenge. >> new arrivals for singapore's inbound medical services include india, thailand and malaysia. they have rapid improvements in medical standards, and they offer services at a much lower cost than singapore. singapore's income from medical tourism was on the increase from
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2009 to 2012, but dropped 25% in 2013. singapore's government still has faith in its strategy for medical tourism. and it is still considered a key industry. >> inevitably, we do see the numbers, but i think moving forward, what we are trying to do is to focus on quality instead of quantity. and you realize that, i mean, the medical tourism is still ongoing, i think still a lot of foreign patients coming to singapore to seek treatment, but these are usually in formal complicated cases that requires a higher level of medical expertise to attend to them. >> the quality and premium service singapore wishes to brand itself for is showcased in connection, this new facility
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opened in 2014. with construction costs of $570 million u.s. dollars, it integrates a hospital with a hotel cop flex. this is the hospital, half of its patients are foreigners. the hospital is equipped with the latest medical technology. it boasts the most up-to-date medical machines, cancer treatment for complex cases. it also has some of the best scanners in the world. along with other cutting edge equipment. the complex is built to accommodate almost 2 cardiac, cr and numerous other specialists. medics can carry out examinations in the clinics,
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then use the hospital's cutting edge equipment for further tests and operations. the hospital is connected to this five-star hotel. it boasts a large outdoor pool, and spa facilities. and has 243 guest rooms. >> this is ideal for seven night stay minimum. >> loft apartments are for long-term guests, while they're used by tourists and business travelers, it's also common for postoperative patients and their families to book into them. they have office space. and a kitchen on the upper
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level. >> this complex is actually ages, integrated complex with hospitality, hotel and medical health care facility, which is a five-star hospital, with a sp h specialist medical center. >> naturally, the hospital has rooms for patients. it has a total of 220 beds. this is one of its top level suites. it costs over 600 u.s. dollars per day. all patients have access to services only in integrated hotel could provide. >> we can order patient from here, usually we have six meals per day, three main and three
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snacks. there is four choices of meats. so for we have chinese, ethnic. >> hospital meals are ordered on a touchscreen and prepared in the hotel kitchens. the first class chef prepares authentic chinese food for hospital meals to a special recipe low in oil. patients can also shop on their touchscreens. there are fashion accessories. and even paintings, purchases are delivered to the patient's room. doctors with clinics at the complex are able to offer its unique facilities in treating their patients. dr. tam yew oo is an oncologist
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that studied in the u.s. and also worked as a professor at the national university of singapore. >> we can discharge patients a little earlier after their operation, and they can stay in the hotel, and they can -- patient and go see the doctor for follow-up within the same building without having to go out. there are very few hospitals around the world that can offer such fast and efficient service and such a short time. >> medical tourism agent chen is consulting dr. tan about a client with advanced cancer. >> i think it's stage four lung cancer, which i know that your specialty in, and it's spread. i think there are six tumors in the brain, and in the adrenal
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gland. >> i will say the patient, they come with the blocks to redo the test. once you make the diagnosis. >> for cheen, the new facility makes greater choices for his clients. chen recently hired new staff in order to move into new zin martin is from minuyanmar. this is andrea santos, both have medical licenses from myanmar. >> i think this is going to help a lot of people in my country, because as you know, myanmar -- a lot of people are eloping to better living, better lifestyle. so i think through this company,
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i can help a lot of people. that's why i joined this company. >> although myanmar is democrat democratictizing. >> he opened an office a month ago, hoping to tap into demand. chen and his myanmar staff are having a discussion about marketing. medical tourism is not a familiar concept. so how should they position the agency. it has been a suggestion that they put together a facebook page for the yan go office. >> do you think it's appropriate for myanmar? >> sure. >> why? >> because you just know that last year, there is a lot
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te telemarketing. >> new challenges. a bridge lies about 40 minutes drive north of central singapore. it leads to johor bahru, in neighboring malaysia. they've seen a rise in patients coming here for surgery. in singapore, citizens must pay regularly into a medical savings fund. it's used to cover expensive medical procedures, such aspirations, and long-term hospitalization. the government allows this hospital and 11 others in malaysia to access this fund. >> generally satisfied with the price competitiveness, in singapore, i would say a price of total knee replacement, that will on average be about $30,000
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in a private hospital. in comparison, that will work out to about $10,000 in singapore dollars. for other surgeries as well. >> singaporeans have been medical tourists to malaysia. singapore may be asia's most advance medical nation, but medical costs are not cheap. patients must bear the full cost of treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, and some find it a burden. >> high blood pressure, the medicine is very expensive. so we have to come out to pay in cash. so what, if one day, i'm not working, and who is going to
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help me? >> one group is raising money out on the street. >> it's a free clinic for anyone who needs help. >> but sum chi medical institution, providing free medical care. today, it has three hospitals in singapore, with 35 doctors. seeing about 1,200 patients a day. they offer consultation and eastern, such as accupressure, chinese medicine made up at the institution's pharmacy is also free. >> most of our patients, they do come from people with low
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income. maybe quite hard for them to pay all the time for treatment, so they will come to our clinic. >> this man had a stroke nine years ago. after an operation at one of singapore's state hospitals, he was confined to a wheelchair. but after treatment at the institution, he can now walk, unaided. in january 2016, the singapore government took another step towards becoming an asian medical hub. it will invest 19 billion singapore dollars, or roughly $13.5 million in research and development in a bold step forward in its plans. >> we are making more public
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defunding open to competition, requiring competition to to make sure that we fund the best ideas and the most deserving needs. >> 21% of the total investment, the biggest allotment, was for research and biomedical science. >> if you look beyond medical tourism, if you look, because we are a small country with limited resources, so our perspective is not wider. we also would like to use, to make singapore a very innovation, where new therapies, new solutions that will improve health care, that will be developed. >> the main base for singapore's medical research
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>> a plethora of other research facilities have also been built around it. the area has gathered around 5,000 researchers in biotech and other fields. many of the researchers work together, sharing cutting edge equipment to improve the r&d efforts. >> for them to reach -- >> professor lamb kong peng, having worked at columbia university and german research labs. >> i think help us to design, viral infections, and pinpoint our research, but also to produce biologic that will be
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used to treat. >> when the szars virus broke ut, he continues to develop new drugs within industry. >> professor kumar henry is from shrilanka, based at oxford university, he was head hunted by a research facility two years ago. today, his research is focused on the asian physique. >> we want you to be doing some typing and sitting and standing on the chair. >> this equipment measures the total calorie consumption of the body. measuring the room's oxygen concentration allows it to calculate the calories consumed by the person inside. >> when he is started to
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exercise, then the expenditure has gone up and then after a while, it will come down, and then it goes up again, because he has done two sets of exercises and jumping quite a lot. given in u.s. and europe, nobody is doing work on nutrition among asian people. asian people metabolic response to food is different. so this is why we in singapore want to do research on nutrition amongst asians, because this is an asian problem and we need to resolve it from asian research and this is why our focus is on asian foods, for asian peel, by asian people, so it can be advantage to the asian population. >> with a population of 4 billion, huge growth expected in the asian health care sector. data collected here will help create nutrient combinations suited for asian consumers.
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the eventual goal is to work with private industry, to create foods that will prevent obesity and prevent blood pressure. >> i was very fascinated to come back to my roots. i am asian. i want to do something in asia. this department was set up two years ago, because singapore government wanted to invest in nutrition amongst the asian population, and i thought, wow. this is a great study, and a great place to come. so i just packed my bags and came to singapore. >> it's not just medical researchers who work around biopolis. this a software development team. it's members are of different nationalities, and have been working on various software projects since 2005. head of the team, sue yi is a
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science expert, making heart disease early detection possible. it's the biggest cause of death in asia. >> what you see here is cut works, software solution for cardiac health. we take mri data, process it automatically and it gives meaningful information to the doctors. >> mri data is used to dissect the heart in 16 sections, recreated on screen. this is then digitized. it helps reveal which part of the heart is functioning abnormally. doctors are assisting in the software development. the team has spent seven years running tests in a state hospital, and improving their programs after consultation with the doctors. today, they're running a simultaneous simulation with
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mri. >> that's moving normally. so let's start. >> the mri data instantly appears as an emergencimagine, able to see it together with the imagine, provides a basis for decisions that used to go on a doctor's instincts. he has high hopes for the software. >> you can see contracting more than the rest, yeah. >> okay. so does that mean, okay, contraction, and then -- it's contracting more vigorous. >> uh-huh. >> and as opposed to abnormality. >> the green color means it is
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lower than normal. >> for the investigation. >> if you could, blow this up. >> this is normal. it's a very interesting finding. >> they aim to make the software available for overseas clinical research within this year. >> we couldn't do it at all, we wouldn't be able to make an impact and a difference, to make singapore into a medical hub and provide better health care for the world. >> singapore appeals to well healed patients at home and abroad. with its top quality medical treatment and services. but it is also fostering growth in its health care industry generally. the country is actively using government policy initiatives in a determined effort to develop for the future.
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hello there, and welcome to "newsline," it's thursday, march 31st, i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. nuclear terrorism in the spotlight over the coming days, as leaders from more than 300 countries gather in washington for the summit. it starts on thursday. japanese prime minister shinzo abe, south korean president and other leaders have flown into a local military base. security is tight around the convention center, and hotels where the leaders will stay. over two days, they'll focus on ways to prevent terrorism using nuclear materials. white house officials say that includes discussing islamic statero


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