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New Straits Times, 22 July, 2009
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'Council to promote medical tourism'

 

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has set up a one-stop centre to promote the country's medical services and facilities abroad.

The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) will be the primary agency to promote and develop the country's health tourism industry as well as position Malaysia as a healthcare hub in the region.

The council will be established as a department within the health ministry. It will report to an advisory committee chaired by the health minister and co-chaired by the minister in the Prime Minister's Department responsible for the Economic Planning Unit.

The committee, which will be responsible for policy-related matters, will comprise representatives from the government and private sector involved in health tourism.

Health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the cabinet had agreed on July 3 to the ministry's proposal to set up the council.

"We now have a specialised body to champion and promote medical tourism," he said after opening the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia International Healthcare Conference and Exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday.

The number of foreign patients coming to seek treatment has increased from 39,114 in 1998 to 374,063 last year.

Revenue from foreign patients' hospital bills also rose from RM14.1 million in 1998 to RM299.1 million last year.

The majority of patients are from Indonesia, the Middle East and Australia, coming for medical check-ups, and cardiac or ortho- paedic treatment.

Despite the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic and a global recession, the government is projecting a 10 per cent growth for the industry.

Liow said medical tourism was a large industry identified as one of the growth sectors.

He said MHTC would also promote medical, dental and eye treatment and would be a corporate entity after three years' of operations.

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