KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s push to develop its medical tourism sector is being given a boost with the setting up of a privately-run addiction rehabilitation centre in Sabah.
The Solace Sabah, said to be the first of its kind in the country, has opened its doors with a six-bed facility in the city in early March, its chief executive officer Prem Kumar Shanmugam said.
He said The Solace’s main facility – a 50-bed resort-like centre – just outside the state capital was expected to be operational by July.
Prem said The Solace provided rehabilitation treatment for chemical addictions such as drugs and behavioural ones such as gambling besides for depression and stress.
He said despite just opening its doors, The Solace had attracted “guests” from India, Singapore and Malaysia at its existing facility.
“’Those coming here can choose treatment periods of between one and two months. After that, we will follow up with our guests by keeping in touch with them and giving them support for another 18 months,” Prem added.
He said once its main treatment centres was operational, The Solace was anticipating guests from Australia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and as far away as the Middle East.
In this regard, he said, The Solace – backed by local businessman Datuk Seri Ghulam Sayeed – was accredited by the Tourism and Culture Ministry.
Prem, The Solace’s clinical director, said there were several similar private rehabilitation centres in Thailand and Indonesia.
“We chose Sabah because of the easy air accessibility with everything nearby, including the beaches, islands and Mount Kinabalu,” he said, adding that the treatment process included taking their guests to outdoor recreational areas.
Prem said The Solace currently had 11 qualified clinicians.
“Addiction is actually a disease and this is recognised by the World Health Organisation. The brain of a normal person feels rewarded after doing something, whether it is an exercise session or a good meal,” he explained.
“But an addict’s brain has a deficiency in that respect and the person seeks substances,” Prem said.
“Our treatment then involves retraining the brain to feel rewarded from doing simple things,” he said.