Travel council soon to boost health tourism
The council was necessary as the number of foreigners seeking treatment in Malaysia had increased tenfold. -The Star/ANN
KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council will be set up to promote the healthcare tourism industry in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the proposed council would look into exploring potential markets for the industry.
A memorandum on the plan would be submitted to the Cabinet within a month.
Liow said the council was necessary as the number of foreigners seeking treatment in Malaysia had increased tenfold from 39,114 patients in 1998 to 374,063 last year.
"The revenue generated from the hospital bills also grew from RM14.1mil ($5.85 mil) to RM299.1mil within the same period with an average annual growth rate of 35.7%.
"We were ranked among the world's top five medical tourism destinations last year," he said after launching the Malaysia Healthcare logo and website (www.myhealthcare.gov.my) at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He said 35 private hospitals in the country had been identified to spearhead and promote healthcare travel and hoped more would take part later.
Malaysia was ranked among the world's top five medical tourism destinations in 2008 by the Nuwirei Investors, an online source of news related to real estate investments and other investment opportunities.
Liow said the diverse cultures, rich heritage and the availability of well-established and affordable healthcare facilities have made it possible for Malaysia to become a world-class player in the global health-tourism industry.
On the influenza A (H1N1), Liow said that as of yesterday, 107 people were still under quarantine including two who tested positive for the virus.
The ministry, he said, was also prepared for any eventuality.
"If the World Health Organisation raises the level to 6 (the current level is 5), we are prepared to go on board planes to screen passengers coming from areas with local transmission," he said.
Liow said the ministry was monitoring the situation in the neighbouring countries.
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