Materia Medica Malaysiana

August 4, 2008

Medical tourists coming to Malaysia in thousands

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:46 am

NST: Health tourism is on the uptrend and Malaysia is well-placed to reap the benefits. ANNIE FREEDA CRUEZ takes a look at the numbers.

TWO Bangladeshi teachers have proved that you don’t have to be rich and famous to be able to afford quality medical care while having a good time in Malaysia.
Khaleda Mariam Sajjad, 55, and Faridah Moni Shahidullah, 65, were the first Bangladeshis to visit the country as health tourists after Malaysia Healthcare (MHC) set up its office in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 5.
They took advantage of the “Lifestyle Healthcare Package in Malaysia” offered in conjunction with the launch of the Malaysian Health Care office and its website, http://www.malaysiahealthcare.com, by MHC, Tourism Malaysia and Newport Holidays.
Khaleda, a mother of two, said: “I knew I was suffering from arthritis for the past two years but after a thorough checkup, I was told I also suffer from osteoporosis.
“The orthopaedic surgeon told me that bone degeneration was eating into my hip bone.
“He prescribed medication to slow down the degeneration. I will be keeping in touch with the doctor through email about my condition.”
Faridah, who has four sons and three grandchildren, said:
“I am impressed with the high quality and affordable state-of-the-art medical facilities and services. I am happy with the service and hope to come back in three months for a follow-up check-up.”
Malaysian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Datuk Abdul Malek Abdul Aziz who launched MHC’s website in Dhaka, said:
“MHC can serve as a one-stop destination for all medical and tourism related needs for Bangladeshis, bringing together all related service providers in Malaysia on a single platform .”
MHC, which was launched in 2006 by former Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, is a global facilitator for health tourism in Malaysia.
MHC acts as a bridge between the health tourist and service providers — hospitals, travel agents, insurance providers, airlines and hotels.

A survey conducted by the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia found that the number of foreign patients seeking treatment in Malaysia had increased greatly over the years.
In 2005, 232,161 foreign patients were treated in Malaysian private hospitals, generating over RM150.9 million in revenue.
In the following year, 296,687 medical tourists visited Malaysia. This earned the country RM203.6 million. Last year, there were 341,288 foreign patients. This resulted in revenue totalling RM253.84 million.
The country’s popularity as a healthcare destination is due to the fact that it offers health care at competitive rates, compared with many developed countries.
Malaysian hospitals have also invested in world-class equipment and secured the services of medical personnel and specialists who received their training in countries such as Britain, Australia and the United States.
There are now more than 210 private hospitals with more than 10,000 beds, compared with only 50 private hospitals with 2,000 beds in 1980. At the end of last year, private hospitals employed 18,246 doctors and 68,349 nurses.
Tourism Malaysia predicts that revenue from health tourism will reach RM2.2 billion in 2010.
A 28 per cent hike is expected from Southeast Asian countries, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Japan, Britain and Europe, with increasing interest from the US and Canada.

MHC chief executive officer Suresh Ponnudurai said their health tourism portal served all the major private hospitals, including the National Heart Institute, and helped to market Malaysia as a world-class healthcare destination.
He said government hospitals which had private wings were in the midst of getting themselves organised before joining in to promote their facilities and services.
“We need to promote ourselves aggressively in order to compete with other Asean countries. Most of the patients visiting Malaysia come from Indonesia and Singapore.
“We have people from some 34 countries visiting our website. Many of them come to Malaysia because of long waiting lists at hospitals in their own countries and because it is more affordable.”
MHC also coordinates travel, accommodation, medical screening and holiday package arrangements.
“We act as a one-stop centre. People find it convenient as they don’t have to go through all the hassle.The cake is huge. If we market our services properly, we will be able to attract more foreign patients.”

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