KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has the potential to become the main destination for health tourism in the region, says state Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Stephen Wong Tien Fatt.
In his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly sitting on Wednesday (Nov 14), Wong said Sabah had potential to become a player in the health tourism industry because it has recognised private hospitals and tourism destinations that can serve as natural therapy for patients.
The Sandakan MP added that Sabah has hotels and resorts that offer special therapy packages.
“Malaysia has high potential as a hub for health tourism because the country has recognised hospitals, skilled professionals and competitive medical costs.
"That is why, in 2005, the Health Ministry set up a unit to boost health tourism in the country.
“I hope that government and private agencies can boost the promotion of health tourism in Sabah as it has the ability to generate high income for the state,” Wong said.
According to him, only four private hospitals are registered with the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council namely Gleneagles Kota Kinabalu, KPJ Damai Specialist Hospital, KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital and Tawau Specialist Polyclinics.
In another development, Wong reiterated that the state government intends to revive the Flying Doctor Service with operations expected to start again in May or June 2019 after the acquisition process for the service is carried out.
He explained that the service will be made available to 11 more villages in Kota Marudu, Tuaran, Penampang and Nabawan that previously were not able to enjoy medical services.
Wong said the flying doctor service was terminated in 2016.