Malaysia has seen a steady rise in the number of patients from Brunei last year seeking treatments for fertility and non-communicable diseases, according to a senior official at Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC).
The council’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Nik Yazmin Nik Azman said that they have received and is still serving an increasing inflow of healthcare travellers from the sultanate every year.
“We have seen a steady growth from Brunei in the last three years with an estimate of RM5 million ($1.7 million) in medical spending from the country alone,” she said to The Bruneian in an interview at the recent Sabre Brunei Travel Fair.
In a previous report, MHTC Chief Executive Officer Sherene Azli said that there was an increase of 14 to 15 per cent medical tourists arriving in Malaysia last year with Bruneians just at only 11 per cent.
Some of the treatments of the non-communicable diseases that are in high demand among Brunei patients include diabetes, hypertension, cancer and heart disease.
Moreover, the exponential growth of medical tourism in Malaysia has also been substantially contributed by IVF procedures.
According to Nik Yazmin, advanced technology and medical equipment in IVF treatment are highly accessible in Malaysia, providing world-class IVF procedures with an 80 percent success rate at an affordable cost.
The CCO further said that infertility is a common issue globally and that IVF is still considered as a taboo subject.
“Nowadays, couples do not see it as a problem to seek help. They willingly come forward,” she said.
Furthermore, Nik Yazmin also highlighted that even though Brunei citizens are entitled to free medical care in the sultanate, many patients still come to Malaysia for specialised treatment such as Paediatric Cardiology while some others travel due to privacy.
For many medical travellers, the greatest allure of Malaysia’s healthcare and service may lie in its affordability, especially when low-cost flights and cheap accommodation are readily available nearby medical institutions.
“Malaysian medical services are known for its excellence and high-quality care services and because of this travellers have chosen Malaysia as their first and desirable destination for medical specialties and treatments,” the CCO said.
MHTC was conceived as a joint initiative from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health to promote medical tourism in Malaysia, raising her profile as the preferred destination for world-class healthcare services.
Moreover, the council is actively seeking to address Muslim tourist needs, following a growing demand from the third most populated Muslim country Indonesia seeking for halal alternatives.
All Malaysian hospitals offer Muslim-friendly services such as serving halal food, prayer facilities as well as providing doctors and nurses that are the same gender as the patients, said Nik Yazmin.
Furthermore, the hospitals are offering patients porcine-free medical products such as using sutures manufactured by a Malaysian firm made from animals slaughtered under Islamic law.
“It is all about good quality healthcare being accessible to everyone,” the CCO concluded.
Azrina Zin | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN