Outlook of medical tourism expected to be positive

KUALA LUMPUR: The outlook of Malaysia’s medical tourism industry is expected to be positive in the long term with the burgeoning demand for healthcare services, both domestic and international, coming from especially an increasingly affluent and ageing population, due to reasonable pricing.

Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) Research Equity Analyst, Athila Razali, said most treatments, such as cardiovascular as well as upper and lower gastrointestinal, will cost more overseas compared to Malaysia.

She said the neighbouring countries, Indonesia and Singapore, formed the largest chunks of medical tourists, with the industry also seeing an increase in the flow from West Asia and other Western countries.

“Malaysia, with rising medical expertise in various healthcare areas, is also seeing an increase in interest in wellness/disease prevention treatments coming from countries with higher spending capacity,” she told Bernama.

However, Athila said, medical tourism was still a small contributor to the Malaysian economy, citing the figures by the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).

As of 2015, the revenue generated via medical tourism stood at RM1bil, contributed by more than 850,000 medical travellers to Malaysia and the government aimed to increase this to RM1.3bil.

“We do think that despite the small contribution currently, it will grow further, especially with the addition of new private hospitals throughout Malaysia providing various medical expertise and support,” she said.

MIDF said the current currency condition has also made Malaysia a more attractive medical tourism destination as it became increasingly affordable to seek treatments here. “The good reputation of Malaysian healthcare system abroad also encourages the inflow of medical travellers.

“The government is also encouraging the private healthcare players, such as IHH Healthcare and KPJ Healthcare, to have their hospitals MHTC-certified to increase the chances of being the preferred medical tourism destination,” she said.

Meanwhile, Prince Court Medical Centre chief executive officer, Chong Yee Mun, said Malaysia, a multi-cultural country with doctors internationally recognised and qualified, has a high standard of healthcare.

“Malaysia has a wide cross-section of different cultures, races and religions. In addition, it has a wide range of languages, coupled with international qualifications from UK, US, India and Australia, Malaysia is seen as an ideal location to attract visitors,” Chong said. — Bernama

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