Malaysia is among the world’s top five medical tourism destinations for medical tourists and foreign investors, reports online investment news source Nuwire Investors. Selected based on the quality and affordability of medical care and receptiveness to foreign investment, Malaysia came in third behind Panama and Brazil, and was followed by Costa Rica and India.
According to Nuwire Investors, Malaysia’s medical tourism industry has seen staggering growth in recent years. From 2001 to 2006, the number of foreigners seeking healthcare services in Malaysia almost tripled from 75,210 patients to 296,687 patients. The large volume of patients in 2006 brought approximately USD59 million or RM203.66 million in revenue. This trend is likely to grow at a rate of 30 percent a year until 2010, projects the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM).
Much of Malaysia’s attraction lies in the wide array of medical services and procedures including dental, cosmetic and cardiac surgeries at significantly lower costs compared with the United States. Nuwire Investors also states that foreign medical tourists and investors are attracted by Malaysia’s favourable exchange rate, political and economic stability and high rate of literacy.
According to statistics quoted on Hospitals-Malaysia.org, the country also offers a comprehensive network of hospitals and clinics, with 88.5 percent of the population living within three miles of a public health clinic or private practitioner. Under Malaysia’s current health tourism promotion drive, 35 private hospitals in the country have been identified to promote Malaysia as a health tourist destination.
Malaysia’s growing reputation on the world healthcare map has also been recognised by a number of international and regional medical associations. This was most evident when Kuala Lumpur was selected to host one of the world’s largest medical congresses, the XVIII FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).
Held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) in November 2006, FIGO attracted a total of 8,294 delegates from 130 countries. Commending Malaysia, the city Kuala Lumpur, and the Centre, Lord Naren Patel, Chairman of the FIGO 2006 Congress Organising Committee said, “The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre is one of the best convention centres I have seen anywhere. It is not just the venue and the surrounding facilities but the utterly professional team which runs the Centre that makes this the best centre for conferences.
“FIGO was very pleased with all of the facilities and services and would recommend the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre as a venue; Kuala Lumpur as a city; and Malaysia as a destination.”
The success and calibre of FIGO spurred an influx of interest from global medical associations, and the Centre went on as host venue for a number of high profile conferences including the 12th APLAR Congress Of Rheumatology 2006 (2,026 delegates); 3rdInternational Asia Pacific Society of Infection Control (APSIC) 2007 (1,600 delegates); 14th Congress of Endocrine Societies (1,940 delegates); WFAS 2006 Malaysia International Symposium of Acupuncture (1,200 delegates); 6th Asian & Oceanian Epilepsy Congress (1,000 delegates) and the 1st KL International Breast and Colorectal Cancer Congress (920 delegates).
Already lined-up from 2008 through to 2011 are 13th International Congress of Infectious Diseases (19-22 June 2008, 3,000-4,000 delegates); 7th Asia Pacific Congress of Hypertension (APCH) Conference and Exhibition (20-22 February 2009, 1,500 delegates); Stem Cells and Immunity Conference (1-3 October 2009, 700 delegates); Asia Pacific Digestive Week (19-22 September 2010, 1,500 delegates); 10th International Conference on Low Vision (VISION 2011) (21-24 February 2011, 3,000 delegates); and the 18thAsian Pacific Congress of Cardiology (7-10 April 2011, 2,000 delegates).
Speaking on behalf of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, General Manager Mr Peter Brokenshire said that international and regional medical associations are becoming increasingly aware of Malaysia’s drawing card as a value-for-money destination with professional world-class service which does not just extend to medical tourism but to the convention and exhibition market as well.
“Our strategic location, modern infrastructure and internationally recognised quality standards make Malaysia, and Kuala Lumpur an attractive destination for leisure, business and medicine. The Centre will continue to work closely with our strategic partners Tourism Malaysia, Malaysian Airlines (MAS), Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) to ensure we take advantage of the fantastic opportunities that medical tourism is opening up,” Mr Brokenshire concluded.