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M’SIA TO CAPITALISE ON MEDICAL TOURISM

PETALING JAYA:  Malaysia is set to capitalise on the medical tourism sector that has shown impressive growth in recent years.
 
Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) chief executive officer Sherene Azli said medical tourist numbers are expected to continue to rise as the country’s healthcare facilities improve and industry players seize the opportunity.

“In 2011, over 643,000 medical tourists visited Malaysia, and by 2016 it had reached over 921,000,” she told Malay Mail.

Sherene was responding to a news report recently urging Malaysia, which has a well-developed healthcare infrastructure, to intensify its focus to attract the high revenue-yielding medical tourism.

The report stated that in 2016, there were some 11.4 million international health-oriented and medical trips, accounting for a 1.4 per cent of all outbound trips worldwide.

“The Malaysian healthcare travel industry is growing on average by 16 to 17 per cent every year. From 2015 to 2016, it grew by 23 per cent compared to 15 per cent from 2011 to 2015,” said Sherene.

The share of trips for medical purposes (including cure, hospital rehab and stays in medical clinics) was around 30 per cent.
The industry’s expansion has not gone unnoticed, as the council has been honoured numerous times, including with the 2015 Public Private Partnership Medical Travel Destination of the Year and this year’s Asia Pacific Healthcare and Medical Tourism Award.

Sherene said the rise in medical tourism can be partly attributed to the industry’s focus in offering preventive care, where medical tourists can choose to combine their treatment with alternative recovery options.

“We have seen the emergence of offerings including lower-risk cosmetic procedures and holistic therapies like yoga, ayurveda, traditional complementary eastern medicine and anti-ageing among others.

“This is coupled with many providers (such as travel agents) specialising in offering package tours which combine holidays alongside medical treatment, usually in co-operation with hotels or resorts,” she said.

Sherene credited the efforts of the government in the last decade, which has extensively invested in the country’s medical infrastructure.

“The improvements are significant enough for Malaysia to be on par with developed countries. Our healthcare operates on an efficient and widespread two-tier system where the public universal system caters to our citizens and the co-existing private system for Malaysians and international patients alike,” she said, adding this helped to lay the foundations for the medical tourism industry.

The World Travel Monitor reported that nearly 70 per cent of all international health and medical outbound trips have been made mainly for health-oriented reasons such as wellness and spa holidays.

A German tour operator who sends tourists to a number of Asian destinations said Malaysia should undertake campaigns dedicated to highlighting such facilities which, combined with the country’s beautiful landscape evident in its sandy beaches, pristine waters and sunshine all year round, make the country an attractive destination. Malaysia is a popular medical tourism destination for countries including Indonesia, Indochina, India, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Middle East.

The top treatment procedures vary from individual to individual, but these include rehabilitation services, oncology, urology, dental or cosmetic surgery, neurology, in-vitro fertilisation, cardiology and orthopaedics.
Source by: 
The Malay Mail Online
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