Medical and wellness travel to Asia is one of the region’s most rapidly growing segments. Malaysia in particular is stepping up efforts to develop, promote and position its healthcare travel industry.
The country has always been a “paradise of wellness,” but has only recently started promoting itself for as a medical tourism destination.
Interest in Malaysia as a medical and wellness destination is growing. What’s behind that trend?
Interest in Malaysia is not new. We are a natural paradise of blue skies, tropical jungles, mountains and no pollution. We have golf resorts, hot springs and lots of appeal. It has always been a paradise for wellness, but we never talked about it. On top of that, now we have developed as a medical tourism destination.
What services can health travelers expect to find in Malaysia?
We have 72 hospitals registered with our agency to provide services and treatment to health travelers. They are private institutions located all over the country. They offer Chinese and Malay treatments. This is what we call complementary medicine. Examples include Ayurvedic therapy and other practices that are hundreds of years old.
Is this complementary medicine offered in all hospitals?
It’s available in many. A good example is the Golden Horses Sanctuary. It offers traditional Western medical health screenings as well as a complementary medicine component. We also have two Chinese hospitals that are very unique. They offer Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine within the same hospital.
Are U.S. visitors going to Malaysia primarily for these complementary medical services?
We have about 12,000 Americans coming every year. Half of them are coming for aesthetic treatments.
What do you mean by aesthetic treatments?
We have hospitals with comprehensive wellness components. They offer treatments such as weight management and nutritional services. They perform health screenings to help you look better. Everything is done by professionals within a hospital setting. One example is the BW Medical Centre. It focuses on three core specialties: aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and healthy aging.
What about traditional medical procedures; are they available to foreigners?
Of course, we offer all the most popular services. We have cosmetic surgery, facelifts and liposuction. Our hospitals provide cancer treatment, cardiac surgery and orthopedic procedures such as hip or knee replacements. We offer fertility treatments, dental surgeries, eye surgery and much more.
What would be the primary incentive to travel from North America to Malaysia for a medical procedure?
The most important component is cost savings. For example, heart bypass surgery in the U.S can cost $130,000 or more. Here, the same surgery would be $10,000-$15,000. It’s a huge savings. Even when compared to other Asian countries such as Singapore, the costs are less.
Additionally, travel here is very reasonable. 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.
What assurances are offered for the safety and quality of medical procedures?
You will find that we have international accreditations and recognition. Malaysia has very comprehensive laws regulating health care. Our doctors and nurses must be registered. They are usually trained in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia. They all speak English, which is another advantage.