Private hospitals are the indirect beneficiaries of the initiatives that have been announced by the government for medical tourism.
The initiative is a RM25mil allocation for the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) as next year is Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020.
MHTC is an agency under the Finance Ministry that coordinates with the various private hospitals in facilitating medical tourists from abroad and it also promotes the country’s medical tourism sector overseas.
The Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia’s president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh (pic) tells StarBizWeek that the move will help the country’s private hospitals gain stature among medical tourists.
“We are deeply honoured to witness such strong support from the government in driving a bigger market for the private healthcare industry. We would like to thank the Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, for his support in the development of the healthcare travel sector, ” Kuljit says.
Commenting on the move to build more government hospitals, Kuljit suggests that the government consider partnering with the private hospitals instead of just building more infrastructure.
“The only concern is that building hospitals may not be good enough as we will need good medical personnel there: specialists. They can build a hospital in a certain area but how sure will the government be that specialists will be willing to go there, ” Kuljit says.
There should be a focus on human capital development as well for the healthcare sector where more specialists are cultivated to support the existing hospitals instead of pouring all the money on building new ones.
Meanwhile, commenting on the move to allow an Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal for fertility treatment such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure Kuljit says that the cost of doing such a procedure in private hospitals is actually more expensive.“It costs about RM20,000 to RM25,000. But it is a good move nonetheless given the falling fertility rate, ” Kuljit says.
The reason for the move is because the fertility rate in Malaysia has fallen alarmingly from 4.9 children per woman in the 1970s to 1.9 children per woman, which is below the replacement level.
There is also an income tax relief of up to RM6,000 that was announced to include on expenses incurred on fertility treatment which is an expansion of the definition for medical treatment of serious illnesses tax relief category.
TMC Life Sciences Bhd’s group chief executive officer Nadiah Wan says that the move by the government will open up access to fertility treatment to a wider pool of patients.
“This is definitely good news for the industry. The initiative is timely. Malaysia is promoting itself as the fertility hub of Asia and this is one way to develop and promote the industry across the region, ” Nadiah says.
“Malaysians will be the first to benefit from the growth of the fertility industry through this initiative. Currently fertility services isn’t widely available in the public sector compared to the number of private centres, ” she adds.
Nadiah notes that currently some 70% of of its patients are local with international patients comprising the remainder 30%.
“But the growth in local numbers have stagnated compared to growth in international patients, ” Nadiah says.
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