IN addition to being a tourist destination known for its cultural, historical and natural attractions, Malaysia is starting to make its mark as an affordable yet sophisticated healthcare hub in Asia.
Joining the ranks of their counterparts in Singapore and Thailand, many local private hospitals now have counters, staff, medical packages and special arrangements (such as accommodation and travel) to cater to foreign patients.
The efforts seem to have paid off as the number of foreigners visiting the country for medical tourism has more than tripled since 2003 to hit a total of 341,288 in 2007.
Datuk Dr Chan Kok Ewe
Medical tourism receipts have quadrupled to RM253.84mil during the same period. For the first nine months of 2008, over 282,000 foreigners came to Malaysia for medical treatment, generating a revenue of about RM222.25mil – a 16% increase from the year before.
According to the 2007 figures, about 72% of the foreign patients were from Indonesia, 10% from Singapore, 5% from Japan, 3% from Europe and 3% from India.
Penang, Malacca and Johor Baru are the favourite destinations. Currently, 35 private hospitals are earmarked to participate in the promotion of medical tourism in the country.