An interview with Mr. Dai Iwakiri, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Santé Clinic
Overseas medical tourism has thrived greatly in China in recently years as more and more Chinese people show stronger awareness of personal health management. In the latest report World Health Report, the World Health Organization released the results after assessing the medical systems of different countries in terms of their medical level, citizens’ accessibility to medical services, fairness of medical fee expense allocation, and other issues. Japan ranks first again, with its “high quality medical services”, “fair allocation of medical fee expenses” and “high average life span”.
Japan has always been known as a top overseas health check destination for its cuttingedge technique and cordial services. It is the first option for rich people worldwide who seek overseas medical services. In 2016, Jack Ma went to japan for a comprehensive body check and expressed his recognition of Japanese medical services afterwards. Pan Shiyi and Li Kaifu also gave very positive feedback on social media platforms after experiencing the medical techniques and services in Japan.
Japan’s medical system is excellent both in hardware – advanced equipment and medical techniques – and software – medical staff’s professionalism and medical services. No wonder so many high profile people prefer Japan for medical treatments, especially those with serious diseases. Japanese doctors’ patience and sense of responsibility also win great praise among the patients. They concretely share their analysis of the condition to the patients and tell them everything they understand about it. Moreover, compared with European countries and the U.S., Japan better satisfies Chinese rich people’s requirements on medical tourism in many aspects, especially in terms of food and living habits. Japan also boasts a pleasant climate with four distinct seasons. It really combines medical service with tourism.
Mr. Dai Iwakiri M.D., Ph.D. is now the Director of Santé Clinic. He is specialized in medical oncology, gastroenterology, infection immunity and cancer treatment. Dr. Iwakiri graduated from Nagasaki University School of Medicine. He worked as a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, assistant professor at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, associate professor at Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine. He is also a councilor of the Japanese Society for Virology and a member of American Gastroenterological Association and American Society for Microbiology. SpaChina interviewed Dr. Dai Iwakiri concerning the overseas medical tourism industry in Japan.
Could you tell us what medical services Santé Clinic offers?
Opened in Ginza Tokyo in August, 2018, Santé Clinic is a private clinic. All the guests must make a reservation in advance. We attach much importance to keeping every patient’s privacy, so we designate individual treatment rooms. In addition to treating their current conditions, we also offer the latest body check and health solutions to help them prevent disease and improve overall well-being. We carry out a detailed consultation with each guest in order not only to understand their current situation but also to learn their medical history more comprehensively so that we can accurately target their needs.
Santé Clinic offers a range of leading medical solutions including immune cell therapy and gene therapy for treating and preventing cancer, DFPP (double filtration plasmapheresis) therapy treating dyslipidemia, chelation therapy aiming to eliminate heavy metals from the body, high concentration vitamin C therapy which restores energy and prevents disease, dermal fibroblast transplantation therapy which stimulates skin regeneration, and fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) which is applicable to cure various diseases. All these are remarkable treatments and prevention methods.
Most visitors to Santé Clinic including celebrities hope to improve their health and prevent disease. In order to deliver accurate and effective medical services and minimize the occurrence of risks, we give comprehensive tests to each guest with the latest technology before delivering the treatments. The patients’ conditions can be improved during and after the treatments.
What are Japan’s unique medical technologies that forerun other countries?
In developed countries, medical technology is being enhanced every day. There isn’t a big difference among us. Gastroenterology is one of my special areas, so let’s take that for instance. Most medical endoscopes used in the world today are originally made in Japan. Japan has a long history and rich clinic experience in early diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers using double contrast gastrography and endoscopy. The number of gastric cancer patients in Japan is higher than that in Europe and the U.S., which also drives the development and continual improvement of endoscopic therapies and early diagnostic techniques.
In general, many of the achievements acquired through basic medical research are applied in the development of new treatments. In Japan, for example, the iPS cells, developed by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka and for which he was granted the Nobel Prize, has become a cutting-edge medical technology in Japan for curing diseases. It is believed that this new technology will benefit the whole world. Apart from this, the immune checkpoint inhibitors developed based on the research findings by Dr. Tasuku Honjo, who also got the Nobel Prize are used to treat many cancer patients.
So we can say that it is Japan’s strong point to carry out medical research and also apply the research results into practice. Needless to say, we have to maintain a very high standard in doing medical research.
Where do your guests come from? What are the top three treatments among Chinese guests?
Our guests are not only from Japan, but also from China and Southeast Asian countries, males and females from teens to 70 years old. Chinese guests are very interested in preventive medicine and wellness improvement. The top three treatments among them are immune cell therapy for preventing diseases including cancer, dermal fibroblast transplantation therapy, and high concentration vitamin therapy.
In terms of health needs and preferences, what commonalities and differences do Chinese and Japanese guests have?
The most typical commonality of people from these two countries is they both pay great attention to health. For example, from both countries, guests whose family members have a cancer history will come to do a health check, learning their risk of having cancer and try cancer prevention methods. They both firmly believe that it’s worth paying for health, even paying a lot.
The obvious difference is that, Chinese guests are very willingly to try new treatments while Japanese guests are much more cautious. Another funny thing is Chinese people always complain that too much blood is drawn in the tests while Japanese have got used to it. Chinese really treasure their blood;-).
As a gastrointestinal expert, how do you see the importance of intestinal health?
Intestinal microbiota is believed to play a vital role in people’s heath. Though more developments are expected in the field, there are already reports on the clinical results of fecal transplantation in balancing intestinal microbiota and curing different kinds of diseases. The therapy is proved to be effective not only to inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, but also in dealing with allergic diseases such as atopic dermatitis, and metabolic diseases such as diabetes. The treatment even reaches the realm of mental disorders such as depression and autism. Undoubtedly, the function of gut microbiota influences not only gastrointestinal health, but all other organs of the body. On this point, it is surly a promising therapy. I personally stay very positive towards it.
Do you have any other health tips to share with our Chinese readers?
Immunity and intestinal health are my specialty and they are also the strong points of Santé Clinic at present. They are two key factors in disease prevention and health improvement. In fact, our immune function and intestinal health are influenced much by lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and sleep. And stress is a big enemy of them. So I want to say, to have a healthy lifestyle is very important. Also please remember to do more de-stress activities. These are the foundation for a healthy body. If you have any health needs, Santé Clinic is always here for you. Enjoy good health!