PETALING JAYA: The country’s achievement at being rated third best in the world for healthcare services is something to be proud of, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
He also gave credit to the boom in the country’s medical tourism sector through strategic investments on good medical facilities and competitive rates compared to other parts of the world.
“Medical tourism has benefited the Government in terms of foreign direct investments and also spin-off effects in the hotel and shopping sectors,” he said yesterday.
The Star Online reported yesterday that a study by the American publication International Living rated Malaysia’s healthcare system as the third best out of 24 countries in its 2014 Global Retirement Index, beating Spain, Italy, Ireland and New Zealand, among other countries.
The index, which was recently released by the Baltimore-based magazine, praised Malaysia’s healthcare, which scored 95 out of a possible 100 points, as the medical expertise of Malaysian healthcare practitioners is “equal to or better than what it is in most Western countries”, according to InternationalLiving.com’s Asia correspondent Keith Hockton.
The top two countries, France and Uruguay, scored 97 and 96 points, respectively.
On the methodology of the index’s ratings, the magazine said both the cost and quality of healthcare were evaluated.
Another report in International Medical Travel Journal News reported that medical tourism receipts in Malaysia from foreign patients totalled RM509.77mil in 2011 involving 578,403 patients.
Dr Subramaniam added that Malaysia remained competitive with players like Singapore and Thailand and the focus was to consolidate the country’s position.
He said the key towards improving the overall healthcare sector would be to focus on the preventive and primary healthcare divisions.
Malaysia Medical Association (MMA) president Datuk Dr N.K.S Tharmaseelan also acknowledged the findings, saying that the country has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
“The Health Ministry has become a massive seamless service provider in healthcare that has produced magnificent results over the years. Our statistics prove it,” he said, adding that this was despite general practitioners being the lowest paid in the world with their fees being regulated.
He added that impressive figures such as life expectancy for women reaching 80 years and about 72 years for men were reflective of the excellent healthcare provided by the ministry and the private sector.