KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is targeting RM1.5bil in medical tourism spending next year.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said healthcare tourism had been identified for growth under the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) plan due to its vast potential.
“We need the cooperation of private hospitals,” he told reporters during the Insight 2017 Medical Travel Market Intelligence Conference yesterday.
Dr Subramaniam said 921,000 medical tourists sought treatment in Malaysia last year and spent RM1.2bil in hospitals.
He said the figure did not take into account expenses by their family members in the country.
Based on a conservative estimate, the minister said for every RM1 spent in hospitals, RM3 was spent outside and this contributed RM3bil to the local economy.
He said 74 private hospitals were members of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), with 19 being elite hospitals which were well positioned to deliver the body’s medical tourism target.
Dr Subramaniam said Indo-nesia remained Malaysia’s biggest medical tourism market with its people coming for all kinds of treatment.
He said medical tourists from China came for pregnancy and fertility treatment, while there were those from Australia who came for services not covered by their insurance policies.
MHTC CEO Sherene Azli said private hospitals needed to be more aggressive in creating a brand for their hospitals to attract medical tourists.
“Malaysia has good hospitals but we are not shouting loud enough,” she added.