Ambitious target for Malaysia medical tourism growth in 2019

MHTC attract RM20 million to promote medical tourism in Malaysia, but must deliver 25% growth in one year.

Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council is now officially under the authority of the Ministry of Finance. The shift from Ministry of Health to Ministry of Finance signifies the new government’s support of MHTC’s efforts in promoting the flourishing the healthcare travel industry in the Malaysia.

The government has given MHTC a new mandate of achieving 25% industry growth for 2019. To help achieve this goal, it has allocated RM20 million (USD 4.9m) during the country’s Budget 2019, announced in November 2018.

In 2019, Malaysia will continue to promote speciality in niche treatments including establishing the country as the Asian hub for fertility and cardiology.

A new Malaysia Year of Healthcare Travel 2020 (MYHT 2020) campaign, will seek to reinforce Malaysia in the world’s consciousness as a reputable global healthcare travel destination. A new campaign in line with MYHT 2020 (called Share My Experience), will be unveiled to focus markets in the Asian region this year.

MHTC has recently added three hospitals and clinics to its partnership programme, bringing the total number of partners to 79, of which 21 are Elite and 58 are Ordinary members. MHTC Elite Partners represent the most prestigious private healthcare institutions in the country. All Elite Partners are accredited by international healthcare accreditation agencies.

The MHTC Partnership Programme recognises healthcare facilities that provide exemplary service to international patients, where members are screened by stringent criteria – in both, healthcare and supporting services – for participation in the programme. A certificate of registration with the MHTC is given by the Minister of Health Malaysia and is renewable every two years.

As an MHTC Partner, Malaysian medical facilities may apply for the Investment Tax Allowance (ITA), for healthcare facilities seeking to expand, modernise or refurbish private healthcare facilities.
At the beginning of this year, MHTC CEO Sherene Azli stated the country’s weakening ringgit is playing a part in contributing to the growth of the healthcare travel industry in the country. The cheaper currency makes the cost of treatment in Malaysia much more affordable compared to countries within the region in terms of price.  In the same article however, AmInvestment Bank pointed out that local private healthcare operators may be negatively impacted by the weakening ringgit versus the US dollar. This is because costs of key inputs such as drugs, medical supplies and medical equipment is denominated in US dollars.

China, Vietnam and Myanmar have been identified by MHTC as core markets in 2019, based on the volume of healthcare travellers, as well as growth potential of each.  Currently the main healthcare travellers to Malaysia for treatment are from Indonesia, India, China, Indo-China, Japan, Bangladesh, the UK, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia and the US.
Kuala Lumpur and Penang have traditionally been the main destinations for healthcare travellers, primarily due to the ease of accessibility, with international airports in both cities. There is now a rise in travel to Johor, Melaka and Sarawak.

For further analysis of medical travel to Malaysia, visit the IMTJ Country Profile.