Healthcare sector awaits details


BY P.W.THONG

THE healthcare industry players have expressed disappointment over the lack of details on promoting health tourism despite the sector being touted as one of the country's new growth area. 

However, the economic package did recommend other measures such as the establishment of a traditional and complementary medicine unit to promote its use and practises, as well as the setting up of a global information hub on integrated medicine and carrying out research on various herbal products. 

The package also introduced a measure to develop Malaysia's natural resources into products with high commercial value through biotechnology and formulating a strategic master plan for the development of plants that were identified as herbal medicine products. 

A senior manager of a large private hospital group, who declined to be named, described the government's call on promoting medical tourism as “too vague.” 

“Frankly, I am disappointed that no specific measures were announced other that stating its (health tourism's) importance. In fact, I was told that the industry has submitted nearly 20 recommendations to the government recently and none was adopted,'' he said. 

The Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia president Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bakar said the association was encouraged by the government's recognition on the importance of health tourism but was disappointed that no definite action had been taken on the recommendations from a study commissioned by the National Economic Action Council and undertaken by Arthur Anderson last year. 

He declined to disclose what these recommendations were. 

However, he praised the government's decision to grant special allowances to medical staff in the battle against the SARS outbreak. ”We hope this will not bring up a flurry of similar requests from other agencies providing essential services, as the medical staff had voluntarily gone beyond their call of duty,'' he said. 

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