: Health tourism is seen as an industry which boosts the country's economy as the sector registered a growth of 23 per cent in 2016 with revenue of RM1.12 billion, up from RM914 million in 2015.
Last year, more than 900,000 medical tourists sought treatment in the country compared to 859,000 in 2015, with most of them coming from Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Indochina (Myanmar, Vietnam), Middle Eastern countries, Australia, China and Japan.
Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) chief executive officer, Sherene Azli said the encouraging development of the industry had also helped improve the people's standard of living, especially the younger generation, through more job opportunities.
She said the job opportunities were available through a combination of key service sectors such as transport, accommodation, tourist attractions and food services.
Demand for labour supporting the ecosystem of the industry had also risen, among them, medical practitioners, healthcare providers, travel agencies, medical devices industry, tourist guides and hotel employees, she said .
"Malaysia continues to be the preferred location for health travellers as it offers world-class healthcare, including professional healthcare supported by the latest medical technology.
"Malaysia has the ecosystem and infrastructure to provide comprehensive healthcare or end-to-end seamless service, where all the patients' needs are taken care of, from the point of searching for information, to treatment, and even after the patients return home.
"In addition, the health professionals in Malaysia are qualified and have received training in reputable institutions in Malaysia and abroad, (we have) hospitals with international accreditation, and a healthcare system which is strictly regulated by the Health Ministry to ensure quality and safety," Sherene said.
The affordable cost of treatment here is also a major factor, for example, heart surgery in Malaysia is between RM30,000 and RM50,000, compared to the United States, where it is over RM100,000.
Among the major medical treatments patients prefer to get done in Malaysia are cardiology, oncology, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dentistry and cosmetics.
In fact, Malaysia has also been selected as a global halal hub, with all hospitals providing halal food, having prayer room facilities, alternative halal medicine, as well as alcohol-, gelatin- and porcine-free medicine.
It is no wonder that Malaysia has been recognised by the International Medical Travel Journal as the 'Health Tourism Destination' for three consecutive years (2015, 2016, 2017), and as having the 'World's Best Healthcare System' by the Annual Global Retirement Index by International Living magazine (2015, 2016, 2017).
MHTC is an agency established under the Health Ministry in 2009 to enhance Malaysia's profile as a world-class healthcare destination, as well as to facilitate the overall development of the healthcare tourism industry in the country.