Local healthcare spending among fastest in Asean

BMI forecast that Malaysia’s health expenditure will grow by a 2023-2028 compound annual growth rate of 8.3%.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s medium-term health expenditure growth will be among the fastest in Asean but it will face tough competition from Thailand and Singapore in attracting medical tourists, says BMI in a report.

“We continue to have a positive outlook for Malaysia’s health expenditure growth, with our view supported by double-digit increases in the government’s healthcare budget in 2023 and 2024 alongside continued advancements in the private sector,” BMI, a unit of Fitch Solutions, said.

The research house forecast that Malaysia’s health expenditure will grow by a 2023-2028 compound annual growth rate of 8.3%, with public expenditure growing by 8.5% and private expenditure by 8.1%.

“The ageing population, growing burden of chronic diseases and efforts to enhance public health infrastructure and improve access for underserved communities will drive public sector growth.

“Private healthcare providers will continue to attract patients with higher incomes including medical tourists and domestic patients looking to avoid long waiting times amid Malaysia’s shortage of physicians and nurses,” BMI said.

It added that Malaysia’s high single-digit expenditure growth will see it outpace regional peers such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia over the medium term.

In addition, BMI expected Malaysia’s annual per capita health expenditure to remain above global and emerging market averages, indicating strong capacity for spending on advanced medical products.

It anticipates partnerships to remain a feature of Malaysia’s efforts to enhance its medical tourism industry as it seeks to remain competitive amid strong regional competition.

BMI said medical tourists from developed and emerging markets visit Singapore for a range of health services including health screenings and cardiology services.

However, it believes Singapore may increasingly struggle to compete with Malaysia and Thailand in terms of offering affordable costs for certain procedures and could target patients seeking more complicated procedures, or those from developed markets with higher incomes.

Meanwhile, Thailand recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to attract medical tourists, and also relaxed medical visas last year to make healthcare more accessible for international patients, reducing the cost of visas and increasing the amount of time patients can remain in the country for.

In Malaysia, there were partnerships formed recently to enhance the healthcare services provided here.

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