Malaysia Eyes More Medical Tourists From Middle East

DUBAI, April 15 (Bernama) — More Malaysian hospitals should get themselves accredited with the relevant professional bodies and take measures to improve their capacity to enable them to join in the country’s medical tourism initiative.

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Ooi Say Chuan said being accredited would facilitate efforts to market the services of such hospitals overseas including the Middle East.

He said about 374,000 medical tourists came to Malaysia in 2008 contributing close to RM300 million to the nation’s coffers.

The target for 2010 was a 30 per cent increase in the number of medical tourist arrivals over 2009.

However, he said the 2009 figures were still being finalised.

“At the moment, most of our medical tourists come from the Asean region but we would like to diversify the market,” he told Malaysian journalists covering the Malaysia Services Exhibition (MSE) 2010 here.

“Given that we’ve been able to market our services to our Asean neighbours, obviously, we can also do so beyond the Asean market because in terms of quality, availability of services and affordability, we have it all in Malaysia,” Ooi said.

Healthcare is one of the eight service clusters being highlighted at MSE 2010, the rest being oil and gas, professional services, construction, information communication technology, franchising, education and specialised training, and financial services.

The health-related service providers present at the show include Pantai Holdings Berhad, KPJ Healthcare Berhad, Prince Court Medical Centre Sdn Bhd, eye and dental professionals, companies involved in hospital equipment and laboratory services as well as medical tourism facilitators.

Ooi explained there was a need to increase the profile of Malaysian healthcare services among overseas audiences in a bid to increase the number of foreigners seeking medical treatment in Malaysia.

After MSE 2010, similar marketing missions will be held in Cambodia and Laos in June, Indonesia (August), Southern China (October) and Australia (December).

Ooi noted that some governments in the Middle East were funding healthcare and medical treatment for their nationals.

“So we need to try to open up some discussion on a government-to-government basis on the possibility of looking at Malaysia as an option (for medical treatment),” he said.

MHTC, he said, was also prepared to organise familiarisation tours for potential buyers of healthcare services in an effort to convince them that Malaysia could fulfil their needs and requirements.

The three-day MSE 2010 ends Thursday.