Monday, June 15, 2009

Boost for medical tourism

Things will look up for health tourism in the historical city soon with the opening of the refurbished Malacca International Airport in Batu Berendam.
Mahkota Medical Centre's chief executive officer Francis Lim commended the state government for turning the new airport into a hub for medical tourists, the first of its kind in the region.

"At the moment, many medical tourists come to the state via the Low Cost Carrier (LCCT) terminal or the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang. The usual complaint we receive from them is on the two-hour trip from the airport to Malacca. The long journey is a major deterrent to health tourists, especially to those who are ill.
This is why the new Malacca airport will play a pivotal role in promoting the state as a major hub for medical tourism," he told the New Sunday Times.

Of the 70,000 medical tourists who visit Malacca for healthcare, Mahkota Medical Centre or MMC receives about 50,000 while the remaining patients are treated by the two other private hospitals in the state. "MMC has 235 beds at the hospital and if the need arises we could increase the number to 356."

MMC, a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary tertiary care facility, was recently awarded the Asean Healthcare Excellence Award (Health Tourism) 2008 and the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) accreditation.

Lim said that to attract more medical tourists from Indonesia, routes from Jambi, Palembang, Padang, Batam and Medan should be considered. He said that the Indonesian medical tourists who come to the state always have accompanying family members and this creates an economic spin-off in terms of hotel accommodation and shopping.

As for the Singapore market, Lim said the availability of flights from the republic cuts down the current travelling time. "This would attract patients from Singapore who are unable to travel by car due to health reasons."

Lim urged the state government to provide better facilities at the airport to cater to the sick such as ambulances and also wheelchairs to move them from the aircraft to the terminal building.

"The airport management and the state government should look into the needs of patients who are not mobile. The state government could help make it comfortable for tourists by planting more trees to provide shade along the roads, introducing a metered taxi service to prevent tourists from being short-changed by unscrupulous taxi drivers. The number of public toilets needs to be increased and measures should be taken to ensure that the public toilets are clean at all times."

Lim also commented on the route from the Simpang Ampat interchange to Malacca town which has about 20 traffic lights. "It takes about 45 minutes to reach town from Simpang Ampat which is the same time needed to travel from the LCCT or KLIA to Malacca. Maybe the traffic lights could be reduced by building flyovers and creating U-turns along the route."

Source : NST
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