The medical tourism sector in Malaysia has recorded a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16 to 17 percent over the last five years – well ahead of the global average of 10-12 percent and Asia-Pacific’s 12-14 percent. Competing in a medical tourism industry estimated to be worth US$180 billion globally by 2023, Sherene knows that Malaysia has to expand its reach if it is to maintain its impressive growth rate.
“We now have offices in Myanmar and Vietnam and we are in talks with Brunei and Cambodia to encourage more medical tourists,” said Sherene.
“Malaysia is recognised in the Middle East as a global halal (permissible by Islam) hub, so we are trying to capitalise on that and are looking to collaborate with Qatar and sign agreements with Saudi Arabia and Oman,” she added.
With a string of accolades to its name, Malaysia’s private healthcare system has a strong reputation which helps it attract patients from across the globe. Malaysia has been recognised as the ‘Best Country in the World for Healthcare’ from 2015 to 2017 and 2019 by US-based International Living, a magazine and online portal which caters to seniors. The UK-based International Medical Travel Journal has also named Malaysia as ‘Destination of the Year’ for healthcare travel from 2015 to 2017, the same year medical tourism arrivals reached the one million mark (1,050,000) in Malaysia for the first time.
Singapore and Thailand are also strong players in the ASEAN medical tourism industry, but while Singapore was once the go-to destination for those seeking treatment abroad – especially from Southeast Asia – Malaysia now offers the same services at a quarter of the price. Singapore, though, is still regarded to have more skilled doctors and cutting-edge medical technology. Malaysia’s biggest competitor in the ASEAN medical tourism market is Thailand, which attracts more medical tourists per year than Malaysia – an estimated two million international patients went to Thailand in 2017 out of its 35 million overall tourist arrivals. Positioning itself as a ‘Medical and Wellness’ destination, Thailand is a global leader in cosmetic surgery and treatment as well as wellness and traditional medicines.
Malaysia, meanwhile, is promoting itself as the ‘Cardiology and Fertility Hub of Asia’ thanks to its renowned National Heart Institute, and the 33 centres which support it. Its strong in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) success rates are also above the global average.
Malaysia’s world-class quality healthcare services are delivered from expert hands. (Photo courtesy of MHTC)
With a healthy medical tourism ecosystem providing a seamless healthcare travel journey for its patients, Malaysia is sure to remain a popular destination for international patients for years to come.