Medical tourism expected to reach RM2.8b in revenue by 2020

Malaysia also offers pregenetic screening which is an advantage compared to other countries


THE Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) has projected a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 30% for the medical tourism industry to reach RM2.8 billion in revenue by 2020.

MHTC CEO Sherene Azli said the business reported a revenue of RM1.3 billion last year, while surpassing the one million health travellers volume.

She said the country has the capacity to hit the target as there are various opportunities that the industry players could leverage on.

“Malaysia aims to become a fertility and cardiology hub in Asia and so far, our success rate has been very comparable with other countries.

“We have the capacity and the technology to do it. We also offer pregenetic screening which is an advantage compared to other countries,” she said at the MHTC annual medical travel market intelligence conference, or known as insigHT 2018, in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Sherene added that China’s removal of the one-child policy has also opened up a huge opportunity for Malaysia.

“We will target China, of course. In 2017, an average of 6,000-7,000 in-vitro fertilisation cycles were performed and we’ve estimated that it will increase to 20,000 cycles by 2020. This service was done at a fraction of the cost charged in other countries,” she said.

Any form of medical services in Malaysia is regulated by the Ministry of Health (MoH), while some other countries allow the private sector to charge accordingly.

Sherene said a flagship medical tourism hospital is also expected to boost the targeted increase in revenue, with the framework currently being built.

“We expect to have at least one full medical tourism hospital ready by 2020, which will be a joint effort by the government and private sector.

“The private hospitals can submit proposals for evaluation to the MoH, as well as independent bodies latest by early next year,” she said.

According to Sherene, 2020 will be the year of travel healthcare and Malaysia is well-positioned to take advantage of the campaign.

“We are already working in tandem with the immigration for medical e-visas. I know in the past it was a little difficult to apply manually, so we are working on it already.

“Right now, what we need is to beef up the marketing and the advertising. That’s where we will look to the Ministry of Finance to promote the country as competition is very rife,” she said.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the government will continue to provide incentives for the private healthcare sector to promote medical tourism in continuing its development, so it attracts tourist globally.

“We do have room for improvement. We need to document clinical outcome performances — this is a focal point in building a trusted and sustainable medical travel industry,” he said.

He added that most of the healthcare providers are concentrated in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Selangor, which collectively account for 76% of the total capacity.

Meanwhile, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ir Amiruddin Hamzah said medical bills will not have the Sales and Services Tax imposed.

“This definitely makes Malaysia very competitive, so we hope to see more patients coming in. The people following the patients will have the usual tax on hotels as foreigners, but not on the actual hospital bill,” he said.