As in many other medical tourism destinations, Malaysia has seen an impressive growth in recent years. The political and economic stability, and the government’s effort to promote Malaysian healthcare abroad has really paid off. From 2001 to 2006, the number of foreigners seeking healthcare services in Malaysia almost tripled from around 75,000 patients to almost 300,000 patients. The country’s location in the middle of South East Asia, together with it’s capital functioning as a major Asian transport centre; makes it easy for international patients to come here.
Being the largest city, Kuala Lumpur is of course also the main destination for international patients. However, the state of Penang actively promotes its private facilities together with its tourist attractions, and is therefore receiving more and more international patients.
Malaysian healthcare centres offer a wide array of medical and healthcare services that all have significantly lower costs compared to for instance the U.S. or the U.K. Malaysia is also cheaper than its neighbour Singapore, but more expensive than for instance Thailand. The high quality in services and well-trained medical specialists, all fluent in English, are other major advantages.
The majority of the international patients going to Malaysia seek curative medical treatments instead of procedures for aesthetic purposes. However, the local government in Penang has actively promoted the plastic surgery procedures at their private clinics and hospitals on the popular island. Some of the most common cosmetic treatments include rhinoplasty, eye surgery and face lifts. Penang also boosts its popular health packages including executive health screening plans.
Some of the most common procedures for medical patients are cardiac procedures and laser eye surgeries.
With its multicultural inhabitants; Malaysia benefits from Chinese, Indian and Malay influences. Each group has its own healing traditions. Among the most commonly sought after alternative treatments are acupuncture, homeopathy, and detox and herbal treatments.
Currently, many international patients seeking Malaysian healthcare come from the neighbouring countries, such as Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines. The Asian countries are followed by Japan, Europe and India.
With its well-developed infrastructure and low cost of living, Malaysia is an attractive destination for overseas patients wanting to stay in the country for their convalescence. Most of the medical centres are a short distance away from beautiful beaches and the nurturing lush countryside.
Malaysia has a bright future as a medical tourism hub. The government realized the potential in the industry early on, and has worked hard to develop the market. The Malaysian Health Ministry recently announced the establishment of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, set to promote and develop the health tourism industry in the country. For instance, joint efforts between the Malaysian Tourism Ministry, Association of Private Hospital of Malaysia (APHM), and other governmental departments have been taken to target new markets, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, the Middle East, Europe, the U.S. and Canada.