National medical tourism figures for 2008 revealed


About 370,000 foreigners sought medical treatment in Malaysia in 2008, according to health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Over the years, the country’s medical tourism industry has registered annual growth of 30 percent.

The minister spoke at the awarding of the Joint Commission International's (JCI) hospital accreditation to the Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC) in Kuala Lumpur.

"Being accredited, especially by an international body, would certainly help in benchmarking the quality services provided by the hospitals. The rapid uptake of accreditation activities by hospitals in Malaysia is testimony to the ministry's commitment to ensure that healthcare is provided in a safe and effective manner to all our clients, local or from overseas.

“Our own home-grown hospital accreditation body, the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH), has been awarded this coveted international accreditation by ISQua. Thus, the standards set by both JCI and MSQH are of international stature."

Besides PCMC, the Penang Adventist Hospital and the International Eye Specialist Centre in Kuala Lumpur also have JCI accreditation.

The Institut Jantung Negara is also working towards it.

For the MSQH, 113 hospitals have been surveyed. Sixty five government and 18 private hospitals have received the accreditation. MSQH was formed by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Only 35 of APHM’s 111 member hospitals are involved in medical tourism and they are the source of Malaysia’s medical tourism figures. APHM offers a range of medical tourism packages and sets recommended fees for medical tourism hospitals

Rhe PCMC expects health tourism to contribute 30 percent of its revenue for the financial year ending March 31, 2010

Said PCMC chief executive Stuart Rowley: "Overseas patients can save up to 60 percent [in their medical cost]. We have 300 beds but only use 85.It does not make sense to use all, but we aim to do so within the next 12 months."

Dr Mubbashir Iftikhar, chief executive of Malaysian medical tourism agency Wellness Visit, noted: “Malaysia’s excellently maintained healthcare providers are certainly as good as their counterparts in Singapore and Thailand.

“Malaysia is as competitive in cost as Thailand and much superior in terms of healthcare providers, healthcare infrastructure, English-speaking staff, foreign trained specialist doctors, and strict government rulings on maintaining high standards of healthcare delivery systems. Malaysia is as competitive as Singapore in the quality of healthcare with its world-class hospitals and clinics, world-class renowned surgeons and doctors. Furthermore, Malaysia is offering services at costs less than Singapore. Singapore is no match to Malaysian costs for healthcare.”



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