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Medical Tourism - Destination - Malaysia

General Informations

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Malaysia has already established itself as a holiday destination but has now expanded facilities to cope with the annual 341,288 medical tourists (2007) that it receives from Indonesia (70%), Singapore (10%), Japan (6%), Europe (5%) and India (3%). These medical tourists are attracted to Malaysia thanks to English being a widely spoken language and Malay being understood by Indonesians as well as the promotion from the Malaysia Health Travel Council. The main treatments that the country offers are assisted reproduction, orthopaedics, cosmetic surgery and stem cell therapy. By developing its position in medical tourism, and continuing promotion, Malaysia hopes to increase revenues by 23% resulting in € 394 million by 2010.

Malaysia
Localisation Southeast Asia, bordering Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam
Capital Kuala Lumpur
Biggest cities (population) Kuala Lumpur (1,809,699), Johor Bahru (1,370,738), Subang Jaya (1,321,672)
Inhabitants 28,310,000
Politics federal constitutional elective monarchy and parliamentary democracy
Religion Islam (63.4%), Buddhism (18.2%), Christianity (7.1%), Hinduism (6.3%), other (5%)
Currency Ringgit Malaysia (MYR) = € 0.19718
GDP € 143,430 million, 0.35% of the world’s GDP
Official language(s) Malay
Climate equatorial, with average temperatures of 32°C and a very high humidity (e.g. 97% in Kuala Lumpur)
Time zone GMT +8
Happy Planet Index (HPI) 33

Cultural Aspects

General Culture

Malaysia has three main cultural influences: Malay, Chinese and Indian. With the Malay population mostly being Muslim, this results in halal food, limited alcohol availability and adaptation of public and private spaces to Islamic needs. This means that Mecca is clearly signposted, and there is an abundance of prayer rooms. The presence of several cultures makes Malaysian society very tolerant and open. This has also resulted in a very diverse cuisine, consisting of typical dishes from various Asian countries, as well as western food. Visitors are not required to follow any cultural or religious guidelines. As Malaysia was a British colony, English is widely spoken.

Safety

Malaysia ranks 26 on the GPI, this proves that the country is amongst the safest in the world.

Tourists Attractions and Sights

  • Petronas Twin Towers: world’s highest Twin Towers, possible to visit the sky bridge connecting the 41st and 42nd floors of the towers, located in Kuala Lumpur
  • Putrajaya: Malaysian administrative centre located just outside Kuala Lumpur and constructed in 1995. Each building is uniquely designed according to Islamic architecture
  • Melacca: historic city south of Kuala Lumpur with remains from Portuguese and Dutch colonists
  • Taman Negara: the world’s oldest rainforest located in the heart of West-Malaysia
  • Cameron Highlands: located three hours north of Kuala Lumpur, these are tea plantations and strawberry fields, which can be visited

Visa Requirements

Most nationalities do not require a visa for stays up to 3 months*, up to 1 month** or up to 14 days***. All other nationalities require a visa to enter the country. The period for a medical visa has been extended from one month to six months to increase the number of medical tourists. Citizens travelling on an Israeli or Serbian Montenegro passport cannot enter Malaysia.

* Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, St Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Yemen

** Armenia, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Gabon, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong SAR, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macao SAR, Macedonia, Madagascar, Moldova, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Nicaragua, North Korea, North Yemen, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Slovenia, Sudan, Surinam, Tajikistan, Togo, Ukraine, Upper Volta, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Venezuela, Zaire, Zimbabwe

*** Iran, Iraq, Libya, Macao, Palestine, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Yemen, Syria

Infrastructure

Transportation

Generally, the infrastructure of Malaysia is of a good quality, although some require a toll fee. From Kuala Lumpur, there is a good infrastructure of highways connecting many cities and suburbs. Other cities rely on primary roads, which vary in quality. With regard to public transport, there are three light railways that link Kuala Lumpur with the suburbs as well as a monorail running through the city. In addition, there is also an extensive network of busses for both short and long distance. Taxis are also a feasible, cheap option. Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the country’s main airport, receiving the vast majority of international and commercial flights. Larger international airports are located in the main cities.

Accommodation

Malaysia offers accommodation for all budgets and desires; however, it is more common to find higher end hotels, especially in locations around the hospital districts. A variety of chains are present including Carlson Hotels Worldwide, Accor Hotels and Hyatt Regency. Hospitals, in general, do not work with hotels to provide a total care service.

Health Care System

WHO ranking 49
Physicians per 10,000 population 9.05 (2008)
Nurses per 10,000 population 19.53 (2008)
GDP spent on health care 4.7% (2008)
Education period of doctors 5 years
Education period of specialists up to additional 7 years or more

Health Care Providers

Private hospitals account for 62% of the total hospitals which means that there are 223 private hospitals. Public hospitals now number 140 after the government built ten new facilities in the last four years.

Insurance

The public sector health care system is highly subsidized by the government at a minimum cost or free. In contrast, the private health care, which is mainly focussed on curative care and rehabilitation, are financed through a combination of employee medical benefits from larger companies, cash payments and insurance expenditure by the population.

Insurance is not compulsory. An individual can choose to have a private health insurance, where the coverage can vary by the height of the premium and the insurance scheme. Individuals also have the option to choose a ‘takaful’, an insurance scheme based on Islamic principles, instead of a regular insurance. The percentage of privately insured Malaysians was 18.8% in 2006.

Reforms/Policies

Malaysia has recently introduced the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), which aims to promote and development the country’s health tourism industry as medical tourism has been identified as a key strategy to increase rapid and sustained economic growth for the country.

General Medical Tourism Information

The total number of tourists visiting Malaysia in 2008 was 22 million, spending in total € 9.8 billion. In 2007, there were 341,288 medical tourists, spending € 50 million on medical tourism. This amount seems low, with an average of € 146.50 per person. This is mainly due to the fact that many patients are from surrounding countries visiting for smaller problems seeking the high quality and the availability. It is estimated that the medical tourism industry grew by 25.3% (revenues grow at 37.9%) annually in Malaysia since 1998 and is following Thailand, India and Singapore. By 2010, the total revenue from medical tourism is estimated to reach €394 million.

The Malaysian government is working actively to promote the country as a medical tourism destination and plans to expand to new markets. In July 2009, the Ministry of Tourism established the Malaysian Health Travel Council for this purpose. In addition, the Association of Private Hospitals in Malaysia is also working on promotion and assistance for foreign patients. Activities of these organisations include the hosting of global health tourism conferences in Kuala Lumpur and the recent publishing of the Malaysian edition of the medical tourism travel guide “Patients Beyond Borders”. Moreover, there are also a number of private facilitators that are attracting patients from abroad.

Flows

In 2007, foreign patients came mostly from Indonesia (70%), followed by Singapore (10%), Japan (6%), Europe (5%) and India (3%). The missing 6% comes from the Middle East and Australia.

Reasons

  • Infrastructure: a more developed medical infrastructure attracts mainly Indonesians.
  • Language skills: English is widely spoken and Malay is closely related to Indonesian.
  • Quality: high standards of medical procedures influenced by the British health system.
  • Cost savings: when compared to the US, cost savings are 69% and 57% when compared to the UK.
  • Availability: treatments, such as stem cell therapy, are available.

Specialisation

The main areas of medical specialisation in Malaysia include:

  • Cardiology (cardiac bypass)
  • Assisted reproduction
  • Orthopaedics
  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  • Stem cell therapy

Top Facilities

The top facilities have been selected using the following criteria’s, listed in order of importance: JCI Accreditation, ISQua accreditation, international orientation. In general national accreditation systems have not been taken into consideration, due to the fact that there are too many and judging them is out of the scope of this study. There are three JCI accredited facilities in Malaysia. Apart from the JCI, there is MSQH, a national accreditation scheme. Below the top general hospitals are listed:

  • Penang Adventist Hospital, Pulau Pinang
  • Prince Court Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur
  • Gleneagles Intan Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur
  • Pantai Hospital, Kuala Lumpur
  • KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital, Ampan

SWOT

Strengths Weaknesses
  • Tolerant and open society
  • Safe country as it ranks 26 on the GPI
  • Well developed infrastructure
  • Promotion by Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council
  • English and Malay are spoken
  • Quality of the healthcare system
  • Cost savings are 69% of the US and 57% when compared to the UK
  • Availability of treatment
  • Preferred destination within Southeast Asia
  • Humid climate making it uncomfortable for tourists who are not used to it

Conclusion

Malaysia is a safe and popular holiday destination within Southeast Asia. It attracted 341,288 medical tourists in 2007 from Indonesia (70%), Singapore (10%), Japan (6%), Europe (5%) and India (3%). This is partly thanks to English being a widely spoken language and Malay being understood by Indonesians. With the promotion from the Malaysia Health Travel Council, it is hoped that medical tourism within Malaysia can grow by 23% resulting in a revenue of € 394 million by 2010.

Top Facility Chart

Malaysia Penang Adventist Hospital Prince Court Medical Center Gleneagles Intan Medical Center Kuala Lumpur Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur KPJ Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital
Location and website Pulau Pinang www.pah.com.my Kuala Lumpur www.princecourt. com Kuala Lumpur www.gimc.com.my Kuala Lumpur www.pantai.com. my Ampang www. apsh.kpjhealth. com.my
Accreditations or certifications JCI, MSQH JCI ISO 9001, MSQH ISO 9002, MSQH ISO 14001 and 9001, MSQH
Capacity of hospital beds 214 beds 300 beds 330 beds 332 beds 230 beds
Possible for accompanying person to stay in room Yes, in private rooms and suites Yes, in private rooms and suites Yes, in private rooms and suites Yes, in private rooms and suites Yes, in private rooms
Medical tourists 51,000 per year, 1,000 to 2,000 from the US Information N/A Patients from over 30 countries 14,400 people, SE Asia (50%) and Middle East (50%) Neighbouring countries, mainly Indonesia, and Australia, UK and Middle East.
Number of medical staff doctors/nurses Information N/A Information N/A 110 physicians >140 specialists 56 physicians
Type of rooms available (prices) Private single / deluxe / executive rooms and suites Private single rooms and Suites (€ 50-€197) Private single / deluxe / executive rooms, suites / semi-private rooms (€19- €749) Private single / deluxe rooms, suites / semi-private rooms (€19- €174) Private single / deluxe / executive rooms, suites/ semi-private rooms (€18- €114)
International patient department Yes Yes, and concierge service Yes Yes Yes
Adaptations to cultures and nations Yes, in food Yes, in food, language and religious habits Yes, in food and language Yes, in food and language Yes, in food and religious habits
Languages spoken by staff Malay and English Malay and English Malay, English, Japanese and Korean Malay and English Malay and English
Marketing of the facility/USP Is strongly involved in medical charity / fund raising. Therefore, more potential for research Collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna which includes rotation of senior medical specialists Tailor made services for international patients including applying for extensions of visa. Employs international liaison officers Government promotion, packages, facilitators, referral offices in Indonesia and Vietnam Increasing brand awareness of KPJ through cooperation with American universities and media exposure
Specialisations Cardiology, neurology, urology, dermatology, orthopaedics, dentistry and gynaecology Cardiology, plastic surgery, cosmetology, dermatology, oncology, urology and nephrology Cardiology, dermatology, orthopaedics, urology, neurology and dentistry Dentistry, cardiology, obesity treatment and oncology Neurology, orthopaedics and plastic surgery

Price Chart (in €uro)

Treatment Average Price Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Cardiac bypass 8,017 7,887
Gastric bypass 8,484 7,887
Knee replacement 5,177 N/A
Hip replacement 6,680 N/A
Hip resurfacing 9,954 N/A
Botox treatment 9 N/A
Breast augmentation 2,338 N/A
Facelift 2,004 N/A
Liposuction 1,670 N/A
Dental implants 266 N/A
Rhinoplasty 1,503 N/A
Lasik eye surgery 359 N/A

Note: All prices are estimates, and may vary widely from source to source depending on services included in the estimate (i.e. doctor’s fees, hospitalisation, administration costs or the patient’s age and medical history). Due to non-disclosure strategies of the various locations, it was not possible to make a clear separation between those factors. All prices given for the specific facilities have been provided by the hospitals/clinics themselves via email or telephone contact. The prices are given in Euros (€).

N/A means either that treatment are not available in the specific hospital, that a price estimation cannot be found or that the medical facility did not disclose the information. For the average prices, printed literature has been used before researching sources on the internet.