Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mix medical, leisure in Malaysia


Blessed with idyllic islands, golden beaches, verdant rain forests and friendly people, Malaysia is a fascinating holiday destination. However, Malaysian tourism does not stop there as it promotes its attractions, ranging from eco-tourism, themed tourism and health-related tourism.

Yes, health-related tourism is packaged under the theme of "health and leisure" and includes wide-ranging activities from how to enjoy treatments and therapies at a spa to medical services. In the past few years, Malaysia has indeed grown as a health care hub. With sophisticated health facilities and qualified personnel, Malaysia has positioned itself as a place where tourists from all over the world can get medical treatment while sightseeing in the country.

In general, Malaysia has three destination areas, namely Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is one of Asia's most dynamic cities. With a population of some 25 million, consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians and others, Malaysia is a melting pot of various cultures.

International hospitals are found in various cities and districts in Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Slangor, Johor, Kedah, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Perak, Sabah and Sarawak. According to the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM), there are no fewer than 40 hospitals.

As there is a wide choice of hospitals, tourists not only can choose a hospital that suits their needs but can also enjoy a tour during their recovery period. Or may opt for a checkup or minor surgery while vacationing in this country.

With health care costs in Malaysia being one of the most inexpensive in the region, patients can undergo treatment, recuperate and enjoy a holiday in Malaysia for much less than it would cost them for treatment alone in another country. For example, standard bypass surgery in Malaysia costs between US$6,500 and $9,000, including a two to three-day stay in the intensive care unit, up to seven days on a ward and consultation, cardiologist and anesthetic fees. "Why pay double the price at home for surgery when you can have this level of service in a beautiful country?" said Leanne, 43, from Australia, who had a facelift.

Malaysia offers a wide choice of state-of-the-art private medical centers boasting an impressive array of sophisticated diagnostic, therapeutic and in-patient facilities. These establishments are well-equipped and staffed to ensure the highest level of professionalism, safety and care. Patients can be assured of quality services in promoting health, preventing disease and full treatment and rehabilitation for all patients and their families through the use of advanced medical technology.

Indeed, lower costs does not mean low quality or services. Hospitals in Malaysia serve their patients with qualified staff, in terms of both medical and administrative personnel. Their specialized doctors are graduates of noted medical schools in the UK, Australia and the U.S. The medical personnel are not only highly educated but are also experienced in medical practices. Most importantly, the medical staff strive to provide a caring and friendly environment, which is vital to a patient's recovery and well-being.

Meanwhile, hospitals in Malaysia have acknowledgment and official licenses from the health ministry. Internationally, they are generally accredited by bona fide institutions, such as MS ISO 9002 certification and Malaysia Standard Quality of health (MSQH), the standard level of which is the same as that of the Australian Healthcare Standard. This accreditation guarantees that hospitals in Malaysia have professional medical services and reliability.

Malaysia has become a top choice for medical treatment and vacations, especially because it offers highly varied services, ranging from medical checkups to treatment of acute illnesses.

Communication in Malaysia is easy as medical staff is generally fluent in English. Patients from Indonesia can even communicate in Indonesian, which is similar to the language used in Malaysia. Special counters for Indonesian patients can be found at most Malaysian hospitals, plus a number of hospitals have representative offices in Jakarta. KPJ Healthcare Berhad in Selangor, for example, has a representative office in Indonesia and collaborates with Medika Permata Hijau Hospital in Jakarta. This hospital is a top hospital in Malaysia and is part of the KPJ Healthcare Group of Hospitals. With over 25 years of experience, KPJ boasts of experience in serving patients at it various clinics and of its specialized doctors. This hospital not only provides medical consultations but also, like a travel agent, attends to tourism matters, ranging from tickets, visas and hotels to taking care of optional local sightseeing tours.

Penang Adventist Hospital is another Malaysian hospital popular in Indonesia, particularly in Medan, which is only an hour's flight away. Set up in 1924, this hospital is one of over 400 Seventh Day Adventist hospitals and health centers the world over.

This hospital boasts complete facilities with no fewer than 35 specialized clinics, ranging from a general practitioner's clinic to clinics for cardiology, psychiatry and cosmetic surgery and reconstruction. Penang Adventist Hospital is also noted as a center for cardiac care with its programs for heart examination, catheterization, the placement of balloon and stents, bypass cardiac surgery, etc.

It is noteworthy that patients are always informed of the cost of medical treatment before it is performed. Hospitals in Malaysia are generally transparent, especially for checkups, which may be offered in packages like "Basic Health Screening", "Women's Package", "Men's Package" or "Health Vacation Package."

Some of the health packages combine health and tourism services. The "Health Vacation Package", for example, is just like an entertainment package. It costs $386 (single room/four-star hotel) and covers three nights of accommodation, breakfast for three days (for one person), a complimentary buffet dinner, airport-hotel transfer and an Executive Screening Program Consultant Package at a local hospital. With a host of beautiful sights in the country, Malaysia offers a winning combination of health and leisure services. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, December 19, 2007

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