Belt-and-Road spawns healthcare opportunities

THE inaugural Malaysia-China “Belt and Road” Healthcare Dialogue has provided a platform for medical experts from both countries to share their experiences, and opened up new opportunities.

The one-day event in Kuala Lumpur covered issues such as chronic disease management and questions faced by the healthcare industry.

The highlight was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between DBH Holdings Sdn Bhd’s healthcare subsidiary DBH Medicare Sdn Bhd, and the Middle-Aged and Elderly Healthcare Branch of the China Association for Promotion of International Exchange of Healthcare.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong witnessed the signing.

DBH Holdings managing director Datuk Benny Hoe said the agreement would greatly increase DBH Medicare’s opportunities to explore areas of collaboration with medical and healthcare institutions in China.

“What we hope to do, is to bring China’s medical expertise not just to Malaysia, but also to South-East Asia, and vice versa,” said Hoe.

Hoe said DBH Medicare was also looking at linking local private healthcare providers such as KPJ and Prince Court Medical Centre with its China counterparts as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and for medical travel industry opportunities.

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council chief executive officer Sherene Azli said China was one of Malaysia’s key markets for medical travel, as there was a 17% increase in Chinese healthcare travellers seeking treatment in Malaysia in 2016, with the majority seeking reproductive treatment following the easing of the one-child policy in China.

Dr Wee (second from left) having a light moment with China delegates during the Malaysia-China Belt-and-Road Healthcare Dialogue, while Chai looks on.

Sherene explained that Malaysia was unique in the healthcare travel industry, as it was one of the few countries in the region which received government support, and assured potential healthcare travellers on safety and quality standards.

Dr Wee said in addition to building new hospitals, Malaysia aimed to increase the doctor-to-population ratio to one to 400 by 2020, making it comparable to Singpaore (one to 502) and the United Kingdom (one to 358).

He added that the healthcare industry was the fastest growing sector between 2000 and 2009, and was identified as one of the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) to receive substantial government support and funding.

He pointed out that Malaysia had been awarded the Health & Medical Tourism: Destination of the Year award by the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) from 2015 to 2017, as well as the Best Medical Travel Destination in 2015 accolade.

Source: The Star Online