Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big bucks in medical tourism

Malaysia was ranked one of the world's top five medical tourism destinations last year by online publication Nuwire Investors.
The Deloitte Medical Tour-ism report 2008 and Research and Consultancy Solution, a research institute in India, said Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand were among the most preferred destinations in East Asia for medical treatment.

Cashing in on these findings, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai yesterday launched a logo featuring the brand name "Malaysia Healthcare" with the tagline "Quality care for peace of mind" to further boost the health tourism industry.

He said the website would serve as a gateway for potential foreign patients and visitors to explore what the Malaysian healthcare sector had to offer in terms of medical treatment options, health and medical facilities, and other information.

In 1998, 39,114 foreign patients sought treatment in Malaysia. Last year, the figure rose to 374,063. The revenue from foreign patients' hospital bills also grew from RM14.1 million in 1998 to RM299.1 million last year.
"These statistics illustrate that the industry has the potential to become a new source of income."

He said the Deloitte report revealed that 39 per cent of respondents surveyed would go abroad for an operation if it meant they could save half the cost and be assured that the quality and standard of service provided was comparable.

In 2007, 750,000 Americans travelled abroad to get treatment and the figure is estimated to reach six million by next year, with the amount spent estimated to be in the range of US$7.9 billion (RM27.9 billion) to US$10.1 billion.

Liow said the global health tourism market was experiencing a growth rate of 20 to 30 per cent per annum.

Liow will submit a proposal to the cabinet on the establishment of a Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council to oversee the industry and promote it overseas.

Thirty-five private hospitals received the Health Industry Recognition Award from the minister for their contributions to health tourism.

Source : NST
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