Medical tourism awards highlight M’sia’s abilities

The awards highlighted a global trust in the country’s outstanding healthcare travel infrastructure and seamless patient journey experience

by LYDIA NATHAN / pic credit: mhtc.org.my

MALAYSIA has reinforced its position as the World’s Healthcare Marvel through its efficient management capabilities and robust healthcare infrastructure in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This became evident from the winning of two coveted titles, “Destination of the Year” and “Cluster of the Year” awards during the 2020 Medical Tourism Award ceremony held in London on Sept 23, 2020.

This marks the fourth win for the “Health and Medical Tourism: Destination of the Year” title, having previously won it thrice in a row from 2015 to 2017 and receiving “Highly Commended” mentions in 2018 and 2019, while “Cluster of the Year” is also a fourth-time win.

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) CEO Sherene Azli (picture) said the awards highlighted a global trust in the country’s outstanding healthcare travel infrastructure and seamless patient journey experience.

“These awards also seal Malaysia’s performance with a worldwide acknowledgement from industry leaders and solidifies our ongoing branding efforts,” she told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

The criteria for “Destination of the Year” included a demonstration of unparalleled qualities in service provision, variety for medical tourists and evidence of coordinated activity that resulted in high patient satisfaction.

The “Cluster of the Year” award was judged based on a medical tourism cluster that demonstrates exceptional qualities in organising, managing and stewarding medical or health tourism organisations and enterprises under its umbrella.

“Judges looked for evidence on how the industry was organising, governing and stewarding its members,” Sherene said.

In terms of contenders for the awards, Sherene said South-East Asian neighbours are geographically competitors, although the awards pit major industry players throughout the world.

“This is why being shortlisted into these categories already speaks volumes of a country’s healthcare travel infrastructure and its management capabilities,” she added.

Sherene said awareness was relatively low when MHTC first began its journey in positioning itself on the international platform, but today, it has grown from strength to strength and become a serious contender by international standards.

“Our positive growth is driven by Malaysia’s strategic position as a Muslim-friendly nation, numerous travel sights and a multilingual healthcare system that caters to the language preferences of patients across Asia and the world,” she said.

While hospital receipts in 2019 recorded a 22% increase to RM1.72 billion, overall it contributed to a total economic impact of about RM7 billion.

Global healthcare travel receipts, estimated at US$16 billion (RM66.37 billion) currently, have been on the uptick but are positioned to reach RM82.9 billion by 2022.

“More people favour travelling to seek better alternatives and meet medical care requirements, especially in terms of quality healthcare services, ease of accessibility and affordability. We were quick to capitalise on the opportunity and have since embarked on massive and successful campaigns that have led to the success and growth of the industry,” Sherene said.

Meanwhile, she said much of MHTC’s short-term efforts would focus on strengthening Malaysia’s position and preparing for a healthy industry rebound through a proactive and dedicated digital brand presence in target markets.

“Over the next five years, MHTC will continue to build awareness surrounding our main initiatives which are establishing Malaysia’s identity as the Centre of Excellence for Oncology and the Fertility and Cardiology Hub of Asia, as well as the Flagship Medical Tourism Hospital Programme,” she said.

Through these initiatives, the aim will be to work towards enabling the economy and safely resuming healthcare travel activities for both inbound patients and national security.

“Malaysia has emerged successful in managing and curbing the spread of Covid-19, highlighting our healthcare capabilities and strengths as a world-class quality healthcare provider. We believe that with Malaysia’s quality healthcare offerings and standard in hospitality, we will see an encouraging number of healthcare travellers post Covid-19 period,” Sherene said.