Inbound medical travel Malaysia state Sarawak ‘on the rise’

According to the Borneo Post, there were 921,500 medical travelers to Malaysia in 2016. There are no official figures for Sarawak, but it is claimed to be on the rise. But much more needs to happen in the healthcare sector to encourage international patients. The Post article does not give a source for its published data.

According to the Borneo Post, in 2016, the healthcare travel industry in Malaysia grew by 23 per cent from 2015 and saw a total of 921,500 recorded travelers seeking medical treatment in Malaysia.

Travelers were mainly from Indonesia, Vietnam, China and India, and it is estimated that for 2016, the total contribution of the healthcare travel industry to the Malaysian economy was around RM4 to 5 billion.

Locally, Sarawak has no official figures for its medical tourists but it is understood to be on the rise. It is thought the country is attracting ‘low end’ medical tourism.

Despite the increase however, local cardiologist Dr Tang Sie Hing opined that the traditional sense of medical tourism is not present in the state as the majority of medical tourists here are from our neighboring towns in Kalimantan and do not contribute to our economy the same way other medical tourists do due to our close proximity.

To grow this segment of medical tourists, he believes that the state’s current conditions and healthcare industry are sufficient enough to sustain itself but should want to aim for tourists from further way, there would need to be some changes.