Medical Tourism in Malaysia

Malaysia Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism in Malaysia has been one of the rising tourism genres in the last couple of years. Since 2008, some states like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka and Sarawak have actively promoted medical healthcare in Malaysia.

In contrast, other states have been extra active in this business in the last couple of years, 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 the entire Malaysia, the state of Selangor has also snowballed for medical tourism, namely with the accessibility of three airports here.

The country's main airports are KLIA and LCCT, located in Sepang and the Subang SkyPark Terminal in Subang, Petaling Jaya.

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

Malaysia cost of medical tourism
The cost of medical procedures in six countries. Source Ginger Healthcare.

Why is Malaysia engaging in Health Tourism? 

A clear-cut answer is that the country has excellent infrastructure, medical expertise, language compatibility, food choices, 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 primary medium here. Most 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 six-month visa extension provision for a health tourist.

The Cost of Medical Treatment in Malaysia?

The main factor behind this is the extremely low cost of medical treatment in Malaysia, which 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; in Malaysia, it will only cost $18,000 to $20,000.

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

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

The most sought-after treatments by foreign patients were orthopaedic, 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; 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 popular among medical tourists.

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.

The medical facilities in Malaysia offer translators as a service for foreign language speaking visitors.

As of mid-2012, Malaysia has eight hospitals with JCI accreditation. 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 private facilities – hold accreditation 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 most prominent 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 neighbouring 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 2012, a total of 583,000 patients sought medical treatment in Malaysia, 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 the Oxford Business Group (OBG) in its latest Malaysia Report, over 600,000 foreign patients generated more than RM600 million in revenue by 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. In comparison, institutions in KL and the greater Klang Valley attracted 21% of total spending, and those in Melaka took in about 10% in 2011. *Statistics are taken from Borneo Post, 18th January.

Top 5 Medical Tourism Destinations in the World

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

This shows that the country was aggressively promoting healthcare to the world. In another related article, Malaysia was listed as No.5 for the best place worldwide 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 standard 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

The country's medical industry is moving fast, with many other speciality centres gearing up. Skin specialists, optometrists, dentists, and dermatological specialists are also jumping onto the bandwagon here.

Many hospitals also organise roadshows in the region, while world-class medical seminars have also been conducted here. Medical talks, expos and even professional conferences are ongoing for the year.

And recently, many top hospitals in Sabah do medical tourism because of the strong demand from neighbouring countries. Sarawak is also no stranger to medical tourism in the last 10 years.

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.
Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.

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