Rise in medical tourists

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia's high quality doctors, reputable health institutes and affordable rates compared with the United States is attracting international medical tourists to seek treatment here.

Malaysia received 583,000 patients from abroad last year, a tenfold increase over the last decade, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the number was expected to grow as Malaysia strives to cement itself as a choice destination for those seeking treatment abroad.

"In 2000, we recorded about 56,000 foreign patients seeking treatment here. Last year, 583,000 sought treatment here, that's a tenfold increase in the last decade," said Liow when opening the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Expo 2012 at Sunway Convention Centre yesterday.

He said Malaysia's healthcare services was in high demand among patients from Indonesia, India, Japan, Britain and the United States.

"A total knee replacement performed in Malaysia would cost US$8,000 (S$9,780), a heart bypass at US$10,000 (S$12,200) and a health screening package US$2,000 (S$2,450)," said Liow.

Among the most sought-after treatments by foreign patients here were orthopaedic, cardiac care and cancer, he said.

To further promote Malaysia's medical tourism offerings abroad, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council opened new offices in Dhaka and Jakarta recently.

An office in Hong Kong is in the pipeline.

The MHTC Care Line, a dedicated call centre to answer enquiries from all over the world, has also been established and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport is set to introduce its new Medical Gallery and Medical Concierge next year.

The expo, the first organised since the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council was established in 2009, ends today.

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