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Medical Tourism in Malaysia

Malaysia Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism in Malaysia is one of the rising tourism genres in the last couple of years and since 2008, some of the states in Malaysia have been very active in promoting medical healthcare in Malaysia.

Notable states are mainly Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Melaka while in the last couple of years, other states have been extra active in this business including Selangor which has the most medical facilities in the country.

Also to join in are the cities of Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu in the east of Malaysia where numerous medical facilities and hospitals have opened.

Medical Tourism in Malaysia

Overall, apart from entire Malaysia, the state of Selangor has also grown rapidly for medical tourism, namely with the accessibility of three airports here.

There are the country's main airports, namely KLIA and LCCT which is located in Sepang and also the Subang SkyPark Terminal which is located in Subang, Petaling Jaya.

The Subang SkyPark Terminal has also brought in many visitors seeking medical treatment from neighboring countries due to the low cost of flying and staying here in Selangor.

Malaysia cost of medical tourism
The cost of medical procedures of six countries. Source Ginger Healthcare.
Why is Malaysia engaging in Medical Tourism? 

A clear cut answer is that the country has great infrastructure, medical expertise, language compatibility, multiple choices of food, shopping and of course the many beautiful places to visit around Malaysia.

English is widely spoken around the country and in all medical facilities, English is the main medium here. Most of the doctors and specialists speak multiple languages like English, Bahasa Melayu, and Chinese.

After all, Malaysia was once under British rule for many years. Additional value that makes Malaysian health tourism attractive includes a visa extension provision for a health tourist for up to six months.

The Cost of Medical Treatment in Malaysia?

The main factor behind this is the extremely low cost of medical treatment in Malaysia where it is a fraction of what it can cost in the patient's own country.

For example, a heart bypass in the USA or UK can cost anywhere between $90,000 to $100,000 where else in Malaysia it will only cost $18,000 to $20,000.

This alone saves the patient a whopping 80%! Imagine, doing your surgery and also having your family here for some shopping and vacation and yet, you are still spending less than 50% of the cost back home. 

According to another source, by the year 2017, an estimated 15.7 million medical tourists from the USA will be traveling to other countries for treatments and Malaysia is one of the hot spots for this in Southeast Asia.

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

Shah Alam DEMC Medical Center
DEMC Medical Center in Shah Alam
Medical Facilities in Malaysia

There are many international medical facilities where some are JCCI accredited while others are in line with the Ministry of Health's strict medical tourism ruling.

Most hospitals and facilities cater to many kinds of treatments which are popular among the medical tourist.

They are also strategically located in areas with excellent infrastructures like shopping malls, hotels and public transportation making it very easy for the patient and family.

For foreign language speaking visitors, the medical facilities in Malaysia offer translators as a service.

As of mid-2012, Malaysia has eight hospitals with JCI accreditation. They are the Gleneagles Hospital, the National Heart Institute, the Penang Adventist Hospital, and the Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya.

The other 85 hospitals around Malaysia – 32 of which are private facilities – hold accreditation's from the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH).

Malaysia Medical Tourism Facilities
Some of the modern medical facilities in Malaysia.
Medical Patients in Malaysia

Among healthcare visitors, Indonesians are the biggest patients in medical tourism here. Many seek the healthcare system in Malaysia due to the similarity in language and food found in the country.

Plus the connectivity from the neighboring country is fast and cheap with budget airlines and ferry services available.

Malaysia's healthcare services were also in high demand among patients from India, China, Indochina, Japan, Britain, and the United States.

Medical Tourism Numbers in Malaysia

According to Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in a report by the Star Newspaper, in the year 2000, the country recorded about 56,000 foreign patients seeking treatment in Malaysia.

In the year 2012, a total of 583,000 patients sought medical treatment in Malaysia, and that is a tenfold increase in the last decade.

Top 5 Medical Tourism Destinations in the World
Malaysia is ranked in the Top 5 for medical tourism in the world. Source Med Gadget.
Medical Tourism Receipts in Malaysia for 2012

According to Oxford Business Group (OBG) who stated in its latest Malaysia Report, over 600,000 foreign patients generate more than RM600 million in revenues by the end of 2012. 
  • 2007 - RM253.8 million from 341,288 foreign patients
  • 2008 - RM299.1 million from 374,063 foreign patients
  • 2009 - RM288.2 million from 336,225 foreign patients
  • 2010 - RM378.9 million from 392,956 foreign patients
  • 2011 - RM511.2 million from 583,296 foreign patients
The largest number of patients heading to Malaysia's medical facilities come from Indonesia with 335,150 patients reported in 2011, bringing in total revenue of RM 325.3 million.

Medical facilities on the island of Penang attracted around 49% of total foreign medical revenues, while institutions in KL and the greater Klang Valley attracted 21% of total spending and those in Melaka took in about 10% in 2011. *Statistics taken from Borneo Post, 18th January.

Top 5 Medical Tourism Destination in the World

In January 2013, Malaysia was in the Top 5 places in the world for Medical Tourism coming in at number three after India and Brazil.

This goes to show that the country was aggressively promoting healthcare to the world. In another related article, Malaysia was listed at No.5 for the best place in the world for cosmetic surgery dated 7th February 2013.

Over in Asia, Malaysia was listed in four other countries as the top medical tourism destination in Asia with price comparison in US dollars for common medical procedures. Please have a look at the chart below.

Country (USD$)
South Korea
Coronary Artery Bypass
Valve Replacement With Bypass
Hip Replacement
Spinal Fusion
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Cycle

Malaysia Columbia Asia Hospital
Columbia Asia Hospital in Malaysia
Final Thoughts on Medical Tourism in Malaysia

The medical industry is moving fast in the country with many other specialty centers gearing up now. Among them, skin specialists, optometrists, dentists, and dermatological specialists are also jumping onto the bandwagon here.

Many hospitals are also doing their part in organizing roadshows in the region while world-class medical seminars have also been conducted here. Among them, medical talks, expos and even professional seminars are ongoing for the year.

Even the state of Selangor is going all out to promote medical tourism in Selangor as this is the main center for the country.

With the growing tourism trend in the country, Malaysia aims to target 36 million tourists for 2013 as the last number for 2012 was 25.3 million tourists that visited Malaysia. Among them, about 600,000 tourists came here for Medical Tourism in Malaysia.

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