The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) has implemented numerous measures in place to boost the country’s medical tourism sector. Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya relayed the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) initiatives at the Dewan Rakyat recently.

Health tourism to generate RM2.8 billion revenue by 2020

Hilmi said they plan to generate revenue of RM2.8 billion by 2020 through the health tourism sector. This is in line with the efforts to ensure healthcare seekers make Malaysia their destination of choice.

“The government works in collaboration with the private sector, especially private hospitals, and government agencies both locally and overseas in the implementation of the marketing plans,” he elaborated.

Hilmi also said that three strategies have been outlined by the MHTC to aid in achieving their goal – namely, facilitation, digital marketing and industry sustainability. He added that China, Myanmar, Vietnam and India were pinpointed as vital markets.

One of their targets is to aim for high-value customers by offering specialised medical treatments and introducing business-related travels. Besides that, he said they plan on tapping into the internet and social media to escalate digital marketing.

Job opportunities increased; standard of living improved

In 2016, we observed a growth of 23% in the medical tourism sector – raking in a total revenue of RM1.12 billion. This is a rise from RM914 million just the year before. In the same year, over 900,000 medical tourists flocked to Malaysia to seek treatment compared to 859,000 n 2015. Tourists from Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Indochina (Myanmar, Vietnam), Middle Eastern countries, Australia, China and Japan made up the crowd’s majority.

Sherene Azli, MHTC chief executive officer, said the promising industry growth has led to an improvement in the population’s standard of living – especially for the youth via more job prospects. Key service areas such as transport, accommodation, tourist attractions and food services played a major role in providing these job opportunities.

There is also an increased demand for medical practitioners, healthcare providers, travel agencies, medical devices industry, tourist guides and hotel employees, she said. “Malaysia continues to be the preferred location for health travellers as it offers world-class healthcare, including professional healthcare supported by the latest medical technology,” elaborated Sherene.

She explained that the country has the ecosystem and infrastructure to provide comprehensive healthcare or end-to-end seamless service. In this way, she said, management is comprehensive from searching for information, to treatment, and even after the patients return home.

“In addition, the health professionals in Malaysia are qualified and have received training in reputable institutions in Malaysia and abroad, (we have) hospitals with international accreditation, and a healthcare system which is strictly regulated by the Health Ministry to ensure quality and safety,” added Sherene.

Interestingly, Malaysia has also been chosen as a global halal hub with the halal hospital food, availability of prayer rooms, alternative halal medicine besides alcohol-, gelatin- and porcine-free medicine.

A projected 12% growth in Malaysia’s medical devices export

Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI) also added to the good news. Over 70% of its members are set to invest RM1.4 billion this year – sparked by investors’ confidence in Malaysia.

AMMI chairman Hitendra Joshi said it recorded a value-added ratio of 57% in manufacturing medical devices. RM2.84 billion – or 63% – worth of raw materials and services were locally produced.

“The growth of Malaysian medical devices export is expected to increase by 12% to RM17.74 billion this year. Malaysia has a strong position in medical device and the global demand is increasing mainly in Asean and China,” said Joshi at the recent AMMI Medical Device Industry Outlook Report 2017 event.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud added to that stating the country’s role as hub for medical device manufacturing – with over 200 medical device manufacturing companies flourishing.

In 2016, 41 projects amounting to RM2.9 billion in investments were approved in the medical devices sector. MIMS

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