Eye on Indonesians seeking treatment overseas


About a million Indonesians go overseas annually seeking treatment, an exercise that amounts to well over US$1 billion, research by analysts Frost and Sullivan shows.

The study, presented at a health forum in Singapore in April, indicates that despite the huge potential and spending power of Indonesia’s large population, the domestic healthcare industry has proven incapable of meeting their needs. Instead, countries such as Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and the US have been benefiting from the visits of wealthy local residents.

Frost and Sullivan contend that Malaysia has been gaining over Singapore in attracting Indonesian patients. It said: “Indonesian medical tourists going to Malaysia comprise around 70 percent of its total (inventory of) international patients, while those going to Singapore are only around 65 percent.”

Last year, Malaysian hospitals treated 288,000 Indonesian patients, up from  221,538 in 2007 and 170,414 in 2006.

In 2007, Singapore hospitals treated 226,200 Indonesian patients, a drop from the 266,500 recorded in 2006. However, its revenue in 2007 from this market was recorded to have increased.

Affordable pricing was Malaysia’s edge over Singapore, while political stability put it ahead of another rival Thailand.

With Singapore’s healthcare infrastructure being world class, its treatment costs are higher than Malaysia’s as are accommodation and incidentals. This reality has led it emphasise quality, and focus on the highly affluent Middle East sector.

A Muslim country, Malaysia has also decided to go for an Arab clientele, as well as those from destinations within the eight-hour flight range including China, Japan, Korea and the Asean.



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