Malaysia develops as medical tourism destination

“Our five-star hotels are priced lowest in the region”

As medical and wellness travel to Asia grows rapidly, Malaysia in particular is boosting efforts to “develop, promote and position its healthcare travel industry”, as Travel Market Report puts it.

Describing the trend, Dr Mary Wong Lai Lin, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council says the country “has always been a paradise for wellness, but we never talked about it.” Besides being “a natural paradise of blue skies, tropical jungles, mountains and no pollution” with “golf resorts, hot springs and lots of appeal […] now we have developed as a medical tourism destination.”

The council has 72 hospitals registered with it to provide services and treatment to health travellers. They are private institutions offering Chinese and Malay treatments, or “complementary medicine”, including Ayurvedic therapy and other practices that are hundreds of years old.

Wong gives the example of the Golden Horses Sanctuary, which offers Western medical health screenings as well as complementary medicine. There are also two unique Chinese hospitals that offer both Western and traditional Chinese medicine.

Hospitals such as the Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre offer “aesthetic treatments”, like weight management, nutritional services and helping patients to “look better”. Cosmetic surgery, facelifts, liposuction as well as cancer treatment, cardiac surgery and orthopedic procedures such as hip or knee replacements, fertility treatments, dental surgeries, eye surgery and more can be found in Malaysia.

The most important incentive for patients is cost savings. For example, heart bypass surgery in the US can cost $130,000 or more. In Malaysia, the same surgery would be $10,000-$15,000. Travel is reasonable and, as Wong says, “our five-star hotels are priced the lowest in the region. A lot of foreigners bring the family for a holiday while they have a procedure done.” She adds that there are “very comprehensive laws regulating health care”.


[pictured: Penang Golf Course; photo by Marc Sievert,]


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