Malaysia, UK to collaborate on digital economy and healthcare services

In this post-pandemic period, Malaysia will be having more collaboration to strengthen both key areas

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MALAYSIA yesterday received an inaugural visit from the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK Elizabeth Truss (picture; left).

During the visit, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Malaysia and the UK aimed at strengthening two key priority areas which are to spur the digital economy and collaborate closely to improve the quality of healthcare.

Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (right) said for the digital economy, the emphasis is on teaching, researching and development to enable wider reach that will propel economic growth in the country.

“In this post-pandemic period, Malaysia will be having more collaboration to strengthen both key areas that will also enhance the long-standing relations between Malaysia and the UK,” he said at the press conference.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, who was also present at the visit said part of the agreement includes enabling more Malaysian health workers to extend their employment opportunities in the UK’s healthcare services.

“This is to enable Malaysian doctors and health workers to remain in the UK or National Health Service while pursuing a health professional career there under their specialised fields.

“This agreement is also to broaden career choices in healthcare especially for Malaysian graduates in the UK,” Khairy said.

In addition, the government has been discussing with the UK on research and development of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Malaysia has recently launched a vaccine institute, and with the UK’s proven track record in developing AstraZeneca, we will look deeper to collaborate in producing our own vaccine,” he said.

Khairy added that Malaysia will also collaborate with the UK to produce a medical tool called the Electronic Health Record.

“Looking at the UK which has advanced in this segment, we see the need to exchange expertise and develop medical tools for the benefits of the public.

“As both countries have started to reopen borders, we were also in discussion to remove the mandatory quarantine for vaccinated UK travellers coming to Malaysia under approved vaccine procurement,” Khairy added.

Under the new rule, he said, with the pre-departure Covid-19 test, the UK will also be relaxing the restrictions for Sinovac recipients’ entry to the country.

Last year, the trade volume between Malaysia and the UK was recorded at RM16.69 billion, an increase of 1.4% compared to 2019 (RM16.46 billion).

During the visit, Truss was also on call with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to exchange views on bilateral cooperation, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.