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Malaysia’s credibility is upgrading its status, being in the top three global choices for medical tourism, coming in third after Panama and Brazil – according to statistics from Nuwire Investors, an online source for real estate investment and other investment opportunities.
These markets were selected based on quality and affordability of medical care as well as receptiveness to foreign investment. Based on these criteria, Malaysia was ranked third.
“Malaysia offers a wide array of medical services and procedures including dental, cosmetic and cardiac surgeries at significantly lower costs compared with the US,” highlighted Nuwire Investors, adding that foreign medical tourists and investors were attracted to Malaysia’s favourable exchange rate, political and economic stability as well as high rate of literacy.
RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd (RHB Research) analyst Lester Chin added that Malaysia’s medical tourism market remained relatively small in comparison to its neighbours, Thailand and Singapore, despite registering strong growth of 22 per cent per annum over the last five years.
“As such, the Malaysian government had, under the Entry Point Project 4 (EPP 4) of the Healthcare National Key Economic Areas (NKEA), targeted an additional 1,900 beds to achieve its target of attracting two million healthcare travellers by 2020,”Chin said.
“We understand that this initiative also serves to encourage private healthcare players to broaden their patient base beyond the Indonesian market and to position themselves as a provider of higher-end medical treatments.”
Based on these preliminary figures, the sector was expected to attract over 600,000 foreign patients and generate more than RM600 million in revenues by the end of 2012, highlighted Oxford Business Group (OBG) in its Malaysia Report 2012.
Government backing via council
One of the many moves made by the government to boost medical tourism is the establishment of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) with the objective of promoting Malaysia as the preferred healthcare travel destination in the Asian region.
As an initiative under the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), its ultimate purpose is to promote and position Malaysia as a unique destination for world-class healthcare services.
“In 2005, the MOH had established a small unit to promote medical tourism. From then onwards, the phenomenon of medical tourism started to catch on,” MHTC revealed.
“To step up the promotional campaign, the MOH then took the initiative to brand Malaysian medical tourism. This led to the launching of the Malaysia Healthcare logo and tagline ‘Quality Care for Your Peace of Mind’ in June 2009.
“Building on this momentum, the government decided to form MHTC, which was established under the MOH on July 3, 2009 upon the approval of the Malaysian Cabinet.”
MHTC noted that it was also responsible for advising on policy issues and setting directions for the healthcare travel industry.
“We are proud to be amongst one of the only countries within the region where medical tourism is promoted by the government. This thus provides medical tourists the assurance on quality care, regulation, safety standards and the governing laws within this industry.”
Cheaper choices, quality undeterred
Malaysia’s healthcare sector offers specialties in various medical disciplines and performs some of the most complicated treatments in the world. Today, the medical practices in Malaysia are on par with the some of the best in the world, incorporating both sophistication as well as international expertise.
In comparison with players, Malaysia’s favourable exchange rate and the costs of healthcare services are at an extensively lower cost than that of other countries within the region.
Some surgeries, in particular, are cheaper by half as compared with Singapore or Indonesia.
“Our team of renowned medical specialists have been trained in some of the most esteemed medical institutions in the world from countries such as Australia, UK, and US.
“Medical treatments are carried out in state-of-the-art facilities that have been furnished to meet international standards. Hence, the high quality in medical treatments is thus maintained at the technology as well as at the professional levels,” MHTC noted.
“A typical current scenario of the international medicine world sees cost of medical treatment skyrocketing in western countries such as the US and Europe. Malaysia’s healthcare service comes as a relief to patients from all over the globe. Malaysia certainly and confidently boasts of a medical care that supercedes in quality and affordability.
“The disparity is proof of the cost-effective nature of Malaysian medical treatment. This leaves scope for combining a holiday along with the medical treatment for many holiday seekers. You still spend only lesser than what you would have, in order to undergo the same medical treatment in some of the western countries.”