KUALA LUMPUR (July 21): The Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC) has lowered the medical tourism revenue target for this year to RM500 million, with RM7 billion in estimated economic impact.
Chief executive officer Sherene Azli said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, MHTC had to reduce by 70% its original target of RM2 billion revenue, with a total contribution of RM10 billion to the economy.
“We don’t have a clear picture of how many people are coming because this is a totally new environment. The travelling behaviour is different, and there are changes in the way we do things,” she told Bernama after a media luncheon in conjunction with the Medical Travel Media Awards 2020 here today.
Last year, the Malaysian healthcare travel sector recorded RM1.7 billion in revenue, with 1.3 million healthcare traveller arrivals.
On June 25, the government allowed the entry of foreign healthcare travellers who were critically ill patients requiring treatment at the intensive care unit or high-dependency Unit.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the permission was for those categorised under phase 1A and 1B to be in use during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) and while international travel restrictions are in force.
“Permission for phase 1A travellers is only given for travel via air-routes and only one caregiver is allowed to accompany the patient,” he said in a statement.
As of yesterday, MHTC has received approval for the second phase to allow healthcare travellers from six countries, namely Brunei, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, to travel to the country.
As patient and visitor safety remains Malaysia’s topmost priority, this permission is further subjected to the approved stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs).
These SOPs include but are not limited to healthcare travellers registering with MHTC before travelling here for treatment. More information regarding these SOPs would be made available to the public once details had been finalised, she said.
“The government allowed these six countries because they are safe countries but this is subject to the agreements between Malaysia and these countries.
“For Australia, it is still in the lockdown phase so in order for the patients to travel to Malaysia for medical treatment, they need special approval and are subject to regulations,” she said.
Sherene said Malaysia positioned itself as the preferred destination for selected specialised medical fields such as orthopaedics, cardiology, neurology, health screening, oncology and fertility treatment before Covid-19 outbreak and the implementation of the Movement Control Order.
“The top 10 countries in terms of healthcare tourists to Malaysia are Singapore, India, Japan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and China,” she added.
Source: The Edge Markets