KUALA LUMPUR: The nation’s healthcare providers can help turn medical tourism into a major income driver for the country’s economy, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
“In this respect, the National Heart Institute (IJN) is an excellent example of a competitive international player. I believe this has been reflected in the global accolades the centre has received so far.
“It was deemed as the international specialist patient centre of the year at the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) Medical Travel Awards 2018, the best cardiology provider for the third year running since 2016 by Global Healthcare Travel Council and the CSR Malaysia Award that honoured IJN for its contribution in the socio-economic transformation of the country (in 2016 and 2018),” he said in his speech at the IJN Jubilant Journey Dinner 2018 here, last night.
Also present were Dr Mahathir’s wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Health Minister Dzulkefli Ahmad, IJN chairman Dr Mohd Nasir Mohd Asyraf, IJN Foundation chairman Dr Aisyah Ong and IJN chief executive officer Dr Azhari Yakub.
Dr Mahathir said the public sector would remain the cornerstone of the country’s healthcare but that the government remained fully committed to continue investing in healthcare to ensure that essential medical services remained accessible.
“For that, the government will continue supporting IJN in its efforts to provide quality healthcare and treatment to all Malaysians regardless of their social status or economic background,” he said.
On a more personal note, Dr Mahathir expressed his gratitude to IJN for the care they had shown him as a patient.
“As a trained doctor myself, I believe that medical care is more than just modern infrastructure and technical skills…it is also about providing the human touch of empathy and kindness.
“For my last bypass in particular, my special thanks goes to senior consultant cardiologist Tan Sri Dr Robaayah Zambahari, chief cardiothoracic surgeon Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, senior consultant anaesthesiologist Datuk Dr Mohamed Hassan Ariff and many others who have contributed to my well-being, including former heart surgeons of IJN, nurses and support staff,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said he had faith that IJN would continue to achieve an impressive record and would never disappoint.