10 reasons why people travel to Malaysia for medical treatment
Malaysia is one country to be reckoned with in the medical tourism industry. According to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), the country received 641 thousand foreign patients in 2011; 728,800 in 2012; 881,000 in 2013; and 882,000 in 2014.
In 2014, as revealed by the local Ministry of Health, Malaysia managed to attract 850 thousand patients, with a total income of $ 230 million. The New Straits Times estimates that every year, Malaysia receives more than 921,500 overseas patients.
The majority of international patients traveling to Malaysia are from neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. These include Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Middle East, Australia, and even Europe.
The development of medical tourism in Malaysia is a result of high-quality, yet affordable medical costs. In addition, the similarity in terms of socio-culture and geographical closeness is also one reason why patients from neighboring countries visit Malaysia.
Malaysia was recognized as the best medical tourism destination in 2016 by the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ). The country is also one of the top five medical tourism destinations – according to The Huffington Post media.
Why people choose medical treatment in Malaysia
1. Affordable costs
The main reason for overseas patients to visit Malaysia is the reasonable cost. Malaysia is a much more affordable option compared to other countries, especially the United Kingdom, the United States, and even Singapore. In fact, medical care services in Malaysia are 30-50% cheaper than in Singapore. This applies to both local and international patients.
The local government sets standard fees at both government and private hospitals for each type of disease. For example, medical expenses for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries – including initial consultation MRI, surgery, anesthesia, and inpatient care – are only about 2,000 USD. Meanwhile, the same procedure in the US costs around 18,000 USD.
Another example: The cost of weight loss treatment in the US is up to 30,000 USD. In Malaysia, it only costs around 9,000 USD. Meanwhile, IVF programs in Malaysia are 65-80 percent cheaper than those in the US, Thailand, Singapore, and South Korea.
In addition, the cost of living in Malaysia is also quite affordable – including accommodation, food, and transportation fees.
2. Government-supported health service systems
The medical tourism industry has been attracting the attention of the Malaysian government for years. In January 1998, The National Committee for the Promotion of Health Tourism (NCPHT) was established by the local Ministry of Health. Since then, a number of private hospitals and state-owned hospitals (Institut Heart Negara) have been established in Penang, Melaka, Selangor, Sarawak, and Johor in collaboration with the local government, private hospital associations, and the Malaysian Ministry of Health to promote medical tourism.
The increasing popularity of the medical tourism industry in Malaysia also prompted the Ministry of Health to form the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in 2009. MHTC’s purpose is to promote and coordinate medical and health tourism in Malaysia.
3. Quality hospitals, doctors, and medical personnel
Quality health services are also an important reason for overseas patients to perform medical treatment in Malaysia. Regarding the quality of doctors, surgeons and medical staff in Malaysia, there is no major difference between public and private hospitals. Professional medical personnel in Malaysia are trained and educated in a number of health care courses – hence, they are not inferior to those in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, etc.
Doctors in Malaysia mostly are skilled in cancer treatment, reproductive system, cardiovascular and organ transplantation.
A number of hospitals in Malaysia also provide convenient services. Starting from the friendliness of the officers in the administration process, consulting with doctors, convenience for patients receiving treatment, to the excess facilities offered by hospitals. Overseas patients also benefit from comprehensive health services, diagnosis, and treatment for all types of disease specialties.
4. Modern medical technology & equipment
Before independence, the health system in Malaysia focused on traditional medicine. However, at the beginning of the colonial period, Malaysia began to be introduced to the modern medical industry originating from Western countries. After independence in August 1957, British colonizers began to make new policies for the health system. Now, Malaysia has begun to invest in establishing health service companies – whose standards are on par with those in developed countries.
5. Ease of communication between doctors and patients
Most medical staff in Malaysia are fluent in English, so they have little trouble in communicating with patients. Some hospitals in Penang, for example, have a team of translators for 22 different world languages. Besides English, they provide translation services for Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Russian.
6. No long waiting list
At hospitals in Malaysia, you can get treatment without having to face a long queue of patients. An efficient and reasonably organized patient registration system also helps in reducing patient queues.
When the patient arrives, he/she will immediately enter the inpatient room, where testing and medical examination procedures will be carried out immediately. Giving prescriptions and medicines to patients is done as soon as possible.
In addition, a number of hospitals in Malaysia prioritize aesthetic design and comfortable rooms that make patients feel more relaxed. This is rarely found in hospitals in the European region. Some hospitals offer pick-up services for patients and families at the airport.
7. Availability of recovery facilities
For patients who have recovered postoperatively, several medical centers in Malaysia offer post-treatment facilities. Patients can relax in the hospital room, where medical personnel can continue to monitor their health development.
8. Friendly environment
Malaysian’s friendliness is also a consideration for foreign patients. This is what distinguishes Malaysia from other medical tourism destinations in Asia, and even other developed countries.
Over the years, Malaysia has been striving to improve its services for Muslim patients – specifically by providing worship facilities, halal foods & medicines. These efforts have made Malaysia win the 2015 Medical Travel Destination of the Year at the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) Medical Travel Awards.
9. Various tourist attractions
Malaysia is known for its wide array of interesting tourist attractions. For those going to Malaysia for medical treatment, you can take the time to explore the various attractions there.
10. Easy access
Compared to other Asian countries, Malaysia is a country with accessible travel access. The government offers a three-month visa policy to attract foreign patients to the country. Upon arrival in Malaysia, patients are certain that they can access public and private transportation with ease.
Popular medical treatments in Malaysia
Currently, some popular medical treatments in Malaysia include dental care, plastic surgery (thread lift, liposuction), heart surgery, reproductive medicine (IVF), Ear, nose and throat (ENT) treatment, orthopedic surgery, cancer, urology, eye surgery (cataracts, LASIK), etc.
According to the 2016 Transparency Market Research (TMR) data of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, dental care procedures are among the most popular services that overseas patients look out for. Dental care accounts for 36% of visitors to Malaysia and earns around 99.91 million USD.
Plastic & cosmetic surgery came second, followed by bone surgery and routine health checks. These services contributed more than 70% of Malaysia’s total medical tourism sector in 2016.
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The IMTJ Medical travel Award winners in 2015. http://awards.imtj.com/results/2015-winners/. Accessed on August 1st , 2018.
MHTC Wins Medical Tourism Award At 2016 Asia Pacific Healthcare & Tourism Awards Gala. https://www.mhtc.org.my/mhtc-wins-medical-tourism-award-at-2016-asia-pacific-healthcare-tourism-awards-gala/. Accessed on August 1st , 2018.