Medical tourism refers to people travelling to a country other than their own to obtain medical treatment. It is a booming industry worldwide with an estimated worth of USD 45.5-72 billion a year. This industry is expected to be growing at 15-25% rate with Costa Rica, Malaysia and Singapore among the top medical tourism destinations.

Medical tourism in Malaysia

Malaysia was awarded destination of the year in 2016 by International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) in 2015 and 2016. Malaysia also listed in one of the top 5 destinations for medical tourism in The Huffington Post. Malaysia’s increasing recognition as a good medical tourism destination is due to the strong support from its government. In 2005, Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia established a small unit to promote medical tourism in Malaysia, which led to the development of Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in July 2009 due to increasing popularity of the medical tourism industry.

Medical tourism in Malaysia has steadily received a rise of medical tourists. In the years 2011 to 2014, the number of medical tourists coming to Malaysia increased from 641,000 to 882,000. In 2015 alone, Malaysia medical tourism was amounted to more than RM900 million compared to RM777 million in 2014.

Why medical tourism in Malaysia is gaining popularity


The apparent reason for the increasing popularity of medical tourism in Malaysia is the fact that the medical cost in Malaysia is much cheaper compared to other countries especially UK and US, and even compared to neighboring countries like Singapore. One of the reasons for this is the currency exchange. Hence, foreign patients get to enjoy not only lower medical treatment costs, but also obtain their food, accommodation and transport at a lower price.

For example, the medical cost for treating anterior cruciate ligament tear including initial consultation, MRI, and then the operation, anesthetist, and a private room, was just USD 2,000 but the same procedure would cost USD 18,000 or more in the US.

Government support

Government assistance to enhance medical tourism in Malaysia is very crucial to its increased popularity. MOH has formed an inter-ministerial committee, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) for promoting and coordinating medical and health tourism in Malaysia. This smooth coordination among various departments, hospitals and committees have shown a positive impact on the industry at the national level.

As a result, the Malaysian government is offering a three-month visa for medical tourists upon arrival, which makes medical tourists’ visitation easier and hassle-free. The government is also making sure that every private hospital is to be licensed under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998. This was to ensure that MOH is able to establishe benchmarks and regulations for quality assurance.

Top quality healthcare

Malaysian healthcare services also deliver an excellent quality of services. Selected hospitals from Malaysia have gained international accreditation from Joint Commission International (US), International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua) and Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. Many Malaysian doctors also received training from renowned institutions in the US, UK, Australian and around the world. On top of that, The Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) was developed as a non-profit organisation to promote quality health care through accreditation.

As a result, Malaysia was ranked number one as the country with the best healthcare in the world by The International Living’s 2017 Global Retirement Index in the healthcare category. Malaysian doctors also are considered one of the best-trained doctors in Asia by The International Living Index.

In addition, Malaysia also offer excellent non-medical customer services. For instance, some hospitals in Penang have translators for 22 different languages, including Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Russian, as well as a team of English-speaking staff. MIMS

Read more:
Malaysia’s medical tourism industry could take off if nurtured
Philippines overtakes France and Japan; is 8th top medical tourism destination
160 slice CT scanner can boost medical tourism in Perak