Weak ringgit seen as boon to healthcare sector

  • Business
  • Thursday, 03 Jan 2019

She said the cost of treatment in Malaysia was more affordable compared with other countries.

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit’s weakening has played a part in contributing to the growth of the healthcare travel industry in the country, according to Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council chief executive officer Sherene Azli.

She said the cost of treatment in Malaysia was more affordable compared with other countries.

“Compared with the United States, patients save up to 85% in costs.

“Hence, the currency fluctuation also favours healthcare travellers greatly, as they receive more value for every ringgit spent in the country,” she told Bernama.

Recently, AmInvestment Bank said local private healthcare operators may be negatively impacted by the weakening ringgit versus the US dollar.

This is because costs of key inputs such as drugs, medical supplies and medical equipment are denominated in the US dollar.

However, Sherene said the Health Ministry regulates ceiling rates for healthcare treatment, thus ensuring services remain realistically affordable.

This is also against the backdrop of the Medical Fee Schedule 2013 set up by the ministry, coupled with other incentives introduced by the government, such as the sales and services tax exemption on medical bills, which have increased Malaysia’s attractiveness as a leading healthcare travel destination.

Leveraging on this, according to Sherene, the healthcare travel industry in Malaysia is growing at an average rate of between 16% and 17% per annum against a global average of 12% to 14%.

“Healthcare travel is one of the fast-growing industries in the sector, recording double-digit growth as compared to the 4% recorded by the tourism industry alone,” she said. — Bernama


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