Five years ago she knew nothing about this area of the market, and now Sherene Azli, CEO of the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council MHTC, is presenting this new segment at ITB Berlin 2019. 15 media representatives have come to the press conference and the German Wellness Association has agreed to a partnership. The young lady from Malaysia has come to “physically get to know the Western European market“. The chances of selling medical tourism in Western Europe are not easy because of the 14-hour trip. However, it is possible to combine wellness stays, a pillar of the healthcare system, with a general visit to Malaysia. Sherene Azli is confident that “many tourists who come here for eco-tourism can combine their visit with a medical check-up or an ayurveda retreat.“
The young nation has two healthcare systems – one private, one public – which over the years have merged. The private healthcare system has grown “much larger“, is how Sherene Azli describes the brand roadmap of Malaysia’s healthcare for 2016 to 2020. “Now we can handle it.“ This “hidden jewel“ was discovered only recently in 2016, after a UK magazine praised Malaysia’s healthcare system as one of the world’s best in 2015. The medical staff and facilities are of a high standard. Since then there have been many awards, and Malaysia is always in the Asian top ten, the third-best medical travel destination behind Thailand and Singapore. The government has decided to draw greater attention to this “jewel“ and invest in a public-private partnership in a bid to make Malaysia a travel destination for high-quality, barrier-free, affordable healthcare.
The low cost of treatment is an important factor, indeed there are no plans to commercialise the market. In Malaysia medical fees are state-controlled and foreigners pay the same as the locals. Fast-track eVisas can be obtained for medical treatment. The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council is an initiative of the health ministry. Its mid-term goal is to build trust, take the country to the top of the rankings and make it the leading healthcare destination by 2020. The MHTC has set up lounges at international airports where medical tourists are greeted and taken by shuttle to the relevant facilities. There are so many pickings to be had in the Asian region that the CEO believes everyone can have their share without having to compete. Last year, there were 1.2 million medical tourists, mainly from neighbouring countries, and the aim is to raise that figure to three million by 2020. The focus is on source markets such as the US, UK, Australia and Japan, which are a four-hour trip away. Malaysia has one of Asia’s best cardiology centres, where the 93 year-old prime minister received a heart operation. He is a lively celebrity figure who is testimony to the quality of the healthcare system. After China terminated its one-child policy many Chinese came to fulfil their desire to have children through artificial insemination. That is the second mainstay of the Malaysian healthcare system. With regard to wellness products Sherene Azli has an ace up her sleeve: “We have a wealth of experience in traditional medicine, and there are influences from every ethnic group.“ Traditional Chinese medicine exists and practitioners must be registered. There is ayurveda, yoga and acupuncture therapy on offer. The slogan is apt: Quality care for your peace of mind.
Sabine Neumann, Redaktionsbüro Schwartz
Hall 26, Stand 117
Tourism Malaysia/ Malaysia Tourist Promotion Board, Frankfurt/Main
Tel.: +49 (0)69 460923420
Press contact for Germany, Austria: Katja Hasselkus PR
Tel.: +49 (0)6196 56140-0
Mobile: +49 (0)177 3287716
photo credit: Pixabay