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MALAYSIA, particularly Sabah needs more private hospitals, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) chief said.

Malaysia’s 2020 target is to hit RM9.6 billion in revenue from 1.9 million foreign patients.

“To promote medical tourism in Malaysia, we need the extra capacity to absorb the foreign patients coming in.

“In Johor and Klang Valley, the bed occupancy rate (BOR) is at 70 per cent.

“Once hospitals reach 80 per cent of 90 per cent BOR, it will be the maximum as we will need beds for emergency cases,” MHTC chief executive officer Dr Mary Wong Lai Lin told Business Times in an interview.

MHTC, established under the Ministry of Health (MOH), is the primary agency to develop and promote health tourism.

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) has projected that by 2020, the hospital bed requirement to meet both domestic demand and serve foreign patients will be between 5,000 and 6,000. Of this, 1,900 beds are for foreign patients.

Some patients travel abroad to receive treatment not available in their country, while others come to Malaysia for quality care at a reasonable price.

Very often, patients who come here prefer to seek treatment at destinations with strong tourist factor too so that the patient’s family can also incorporate a holiday.

Penang is a good example of how a tourist destination also fares well in medical tourism. The bulk or 49 per cent of the revenue derived from medical tourism is from the island state, while Malacca takes a tenth of the revenue.

“As Johor is developing into a destination that will lure tourists, following the opening of the Johor Premium Outlet and Legoland, it is a move in the right direction, that we can see at least five hospitals with a total capacity of 1,140 beds planned for opening in the state,” she said.

On which destination needs more private hospital to attract foreign patients? Wong said: “Sabah needs hospitals. It is already a good tourist destination.”

Previous reports indicated that Gleneagles has a goal of operating 2,000 beds by 2020 from 380 beds at its two hospitals in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. KPJ Healthcare Bhd, meanwhile, has a goal of adding 822 more beds by 2020.

Currently, there are 49 facilities registered with MHTC.

Medical centre registered with MHTC can get investment tax allowance of 100 per cent on the qualifying capital expenditure incurred within a period of five years from 2010. Private hospitals can also get double tax deduction for expenses in obtaining accreditation.

Meanwhile, MHTC’s promotions, which have been fully funded by the government, is about to change following the corporatisation of MHTC.

MHTC will have to look for other sources of revenue including the possibility of contributions from hospitals to promote and market Malaysia abroad.

Read more: BusinessTimes

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