Icon in medical sector tie-up with Sunsuria

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is well-placed to become a strong contender for medical tourism due to the country’s good healthcare ecosystem, price competitiveness and quality of trained doctors.

Icon Asean and Hong Kong chief executive officer Serena Wee said the local medical industry is attracting foreign patients and medical tourists.

This is especially within Penang, Melaka and Kuala Lumpur.

“We believe that as we elevate the standard of cancer care in Malaysia, the country is well-positioned to be a contender for medical tourism,” she said during a press conference in conjunction with a joint venture (JV) signing ceremony between Sunsuria Healthcare and Icon Cancer Centre.

Sunsuria Healthcare chief executive officer Audrey Ooi added to Wee’s point by providing statistics from the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, which stated that in 2019, RM1.7bil of revenue was brought in by 1.2 million medical tourists who came to Malaysia.

“In fact, when the border reopened last year, the latest statistics showed that RM1.2bil was collected from about 850,000 medical tourists seeking healthcare services here,” she said.

Ooi said the group was looking into models where patients are able to choose where they would like to receive treatment in certain countries.

This could then be beneficial for the Malaysian medical industry if chosen.

With the aim of providing access to quality cancer care and improving the well-being of patients and their families, a JV company was established between Sunsuria Healthcare and Icon Cancer Centre – Icon Sunsuria Sdn Bhd.

With a shared commitment to enhancing patient outcomes and advancing cancer care clinical expertise, the partnership aims to elevate the standard of cancer care in the country.

Wee said since 2022, Malaysia has been the group’s focus for Asean expansion.

She added that Icon has found an ideal partner in Sunsuria Healthcare, as it strives to push the boundaries of cancer care in Malaysia.

“With the support of our partners and the Health Ministry (MoH), together with different hospital partners, doctors and groups, we can integrate this centre very successfully to elevate cancer care in Malaysia,” she said.

In response to differentiating the Icon cancer care to existing facilities, Wee said the answer was collaboration.

She said the partnership of Icon and Sunsuria Healthcare combined with global expertise is what differentiated the JV company from everything else.

Wee emphasised that to make the centre even more successful and allow it to reach a much larger audience would mean identifying gaps within the industry as well as location.

“I think what is very important is to really bring the best care to as many people as possible and as close to their homes as possible,” she added.

On another note, Ooi said Sunsuria Healthcare foresees that the venture will bring a positive outlook to the overall business.

“I believe both parties will bring significant expertise, resources and necessary investments to make this cancer centre a success,” she said.

She also mentioned that the venture will not only focus on the downstream segment such as cancer care and identifying gaps in human resources, but also on upstream capabilities.

This is in terms of how to properly streamline the supply chain and bring down the cost of cancer care.

Ooi said the two partners’ shares were split on a 70%:30% ratio, with Icon Cancer Centre holding the larger portion.

Officiating the venture, Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said private-sector involvement was pivotal within the realm of cancer.

This was particularly in the context of advancing cancer care and research as well as strengthening the local talent base.

“MoH greatly welcomes private healthcare providers to play a role in empowering the healthcare workforce with access to specialised expertise and resources,” she said during her speech.

“Efforts such as these complement the ministry’s own action plan for battling cancer, as outlined in the Malaysian National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme 2021 to 2025,” the minister added.

In addition to bringing the most recent methods in clinical research, treatment procedures, and medications to Malaysia, Icon Cancer Centre brings a global knowledge-sharing network of over 300 doctors and partners from the cancer business.

The strategic relationship between Icon Cancer Centre and Varian, a Siemens Healthineers subsidiary, gives the group’s partners an advantage in gaining access to radiation therapy advancements as they expand within the growing Asia-Pacific market.

Icon Cancer Centre is an integral arm of global cancer care provider, Icon Group, while Sunsuria Healthcare is a subsidiary of Sunsuria Bhd.

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