Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Service Sector: Medical Tourism

The service sector has been identified as the engine of growth for the country. In the service sector, education tourism and medical tourism are important subsectors. I have my reservation about medical tourism in this country. Statistics has shown that the number of foreign patients has been increasing steadily. Today we treat about 300,000 foreign patients with revenue of about RM250 - 300 million. So, why do I say medical tourism have limited potential in this country?

While it is true that we are cost competitive compared to regional market, but foreigners who seek treatment here are usually for the more mundane medical treatment where the average cost is about RM1000 per patient. We are treating more low-end patients with most of them from Indonesia. We have to bear in mind that we are facing acute shortage of healthcare providers. We face shortage in all spectrums, from doctors and nurses to physiotherapists and etc. Hence, any growth in medical tourism has to be very dependent on imported healthcare provider. We cannot cater to mass medical tourism. We can only cater to the niche market or the high value added medical tourists. If we do cannot achieve this, then we are deluding ourselves into thinking we are successful with the sheer number of foreign patients seeking treatment in our country.

In term of value, it is very limited since medical tourism in our country at present is not a high value added service with the average costs of about RM1000-1500 per patient with treatments ranging from dental treatments, medical checkups and simple plastic surgeries. This will only serve to overload an already strained medical system.

The sprouting of private hospitals has also caused an exodus of government medical providers to the private sectors. What we are seeing is junior doctors assuming senior positions, both in the government and in the private sectors. We see junior doctors training other freshie medical graduates. The end result is the steady dropping of medical standards in this country since everybody is in a hurry to migrate from the government to the private sector for a greener pasture.

Hence, we should not be euphoric about the rise of medical tourism in this country since it will strain an already overburden government health system. The poor will be deprived of the best healthcare system as provided by the government. The escalating costs of the healthcare system will also become a burden to the middle class. So, we should be more cautious about supporting medical tourism in this country. 

9 comments:

SP said...

I totally support Dr Chua's view on medical tourism. It has a pernicious indirect effect of drawing away trained medical staff from the public hospitals thus lowering the capacity to deliver good quality service to the ordinary public in public hospitals.

Subramaniam Pillay, GMPPK

kenny said...

Datuk Seri. Good insight.
How many world class doctors do we have? Most Malaysian world class doctors dont work in Malaysia - for reasons we all know.

august said...

What you say is absolutely right but why did you not do anything while you were the Health Minister. You had the opportunity to improve our health care but you did not do so. Patients in the third class wards are being neglected and suffering from bedsores. Doctors in the private sectors are charging exhorbitant prices for even simple surgery. Do you know that a simple appendicectomy cost RM 8000 in a private hospital.

Ooi Beng Hooi said...

"The sprouting of private hospitals has also caused an exodus of government medical providers to the private sectors. What we are seeing is junior doctors assuming senior positions, both in the government and in the private sectors. We see junior doctors training other freshie medical graduates. The end result is the steady dropping of medical standards in this country since everybody is in a hurry to migrate from the government to the private sector for a greener pasture."

Who else if not BN and Health Ministry's fault.

呉 和豪 said...

Saudara Dato Seri Dr.Chua Soi Lek

Eventhough I got bore of Party Politic , but I think it is worth to read this article and made comment on it.

In the service sector, education tourism and medical tourism are important subsectors. I have my reservation about medical tourism in this country.
为甚末只提医药旅游,而不提医药及保健旅游。马来西亚的天然环境是很适合我们推动保健旅游, 一位曾经做过bypass的日本人曾经告诉我每年冬天时,他都会来到马来西亚的槟城来修养。
We are treating more low-end patients with most of them from Indonesia. We have to bear in mind that we are facing acute shortage of healthcare providers. We face shortage in all spectrums, from doctors and nurses to physiotherapists and etc.
从去年开始日本就开始引进几百名印度尼西亚的护士到日本,这些护士在日本要接受严格的训练后才能正式工作,如果不能通过日语考试或适应日本生活就要遣回印度尼西亚。马来西亚是否可以让这些曾在日本接受严格训练但无法通过日语考试的护士在马来西亚服务呢?
首相宣布的开放政策也包括了医药领域,这有大大帮助发展医药及保健旅游。
The poor will be deprived of the best healthcare system as provided by the government.
我同意我们应该照顾普罗大众,中下层阶级。
我也认为医药及保健旅游不应只限于外国市场, 我们也可以鼓励退休人士
到郊外做运动及种菜,因为这是养生的好方法。

Tuanku said...

Dear Dato Dr Chua,

I totally support Dr Chua's comment and his open opinion on medical tourism in Malaysia. Unfortunately, many rich and famous overseas' tourists, patients and old folks pefer to go for health & medical tourism in Singapore, HK, Japan , Taiwan and also Thailand for two good simple reaons why Malaysia lost out the competitive business in health & medical tourism industry:-

(a) Malaysia short of reputable and qualified medical practitioners, specialists and qualified doctors in govt and private hospitals because majority good brain docs and specialists of origin Malaysians have migrated to those said countries with better living standard, political stable, good govt policies and free educations as compared with our messy corrupted politicians / leaders, biased govt policies and NEP policies from BN Govt for 5 decades and now.

(b) Many Chinese and non-Bumi top cream students in SPM and STPM are denied PSD scholarships to study overseas and also rejected to study medicine and health related degrees in local universities. A bias policies of PSD and local Univerisities selection policies have caused many smart Malaysian students suffered but to accept the overseas' scholarships and their degree courses related to hospitality , tourism and medicines.

Let me tell Dr Chua a true story in our education system today. I was very dissapointed to listen, see and hear that more than 12 top students with straight As in the Methodist Boy School (MBS) KL failed to secure any PSD scholarships or any good Uni courses (except 1 student is offered). Maybe the first reason it because "MBS" carried a "Christian" trademark on it as compared with St John School next door that StJohn secured full PSD scholarship. Second reason because MBS has more Chinese and Indian students as compared with majority Malay students in St John Inst. The offer of scholarships from PSD are based on "color" system and not on meritocracy system as BN bullshit the rakyat today.

The recent announcement made by the MBS principal is very shameful and disgraceful to all MBS students and affected their motivations to score more As. This is a real good example why all MBS brain smart students are offered scholarship by Singapore and other countries to pursure medicine, pharmacy and hospitality courses in overseas and NUS etc.

So it is pointless for Dr Chua to raise the Medical Tourism Service Sector in Malaysia when most doctors from 3rd class medical degrees from Indon, Bangla, Pakistan, Myammar and third world countries. The rich and famous patients, old folks and tourists are not stupid enough to pay for millions to get 3rd class medical treatment here. Even my parents seek medical consultation from Singapore or China as compared with our poor medical services offered here.

MCA and MIC and other non Bumi partners in BN are "Sleeping Bull Dogs" dared not voiced out the communities' problems and grieveances of our smart students and parents today. So it is time the chinese , indian dan non Bumi people will vote 100% and strongly support PR teams from DAP, PAS and PKR today.

PM Najib slogan on "1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now" is total failure and bullshit motto today in his 100 days in office. The spread of DUN Perak disease has caused severe sickness and illness for all Perakians now.
This DUN Perak disease is worst than H1N1 Swine Flu. Today Najib pushed his dirty hand ball to Sultan Perak and indirectly blamed the Sultan for failure in the dissolution of Perak Assembly. Unfortunate for Perakians and the Rakyat get a very burden, questionable and liabilities 6th PM today as reported in many local media news and also foreign news. Am I right to repeat it or wrong to read their printed news and online news ?

Dr Chua should know better how our Malaysians trained doctors sleeping in their works and let the poor patients waited hours outside to seek immediate RM1treatment. Your BN leaders caught two lazy docs recently. So how ? Any good reasons given by the BN Medical Director : Overwork or Overpaid or Overqualified or otherwise? I wonder. It is indeed shameful for BN leaders "Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin" on education policies in Malaysia.

Quote of today:-

"As saying goes, the Opposition parties win because the corrupt biased Government lose today."

Regards,

Angry Anak Perakian

Low C. W. said...

Is a good point that arised only if someone can look thing from many anchor.
BUT I do not agree that we should not promote too much of the industry just because of it is taking away/creating problem to the medical services for common people. The problem shld be solve by other means i.e allocate more resources to have more growth more medical student in local university, allows a more open criteria to recruit foreigner to work in this industry and so on.

insah62 said...

We need to look into our own backyard before pursuing further.Look at the so call the Golden triangle area ie-bukit bintang,Supposedly the orchard road of Malaysia.Our bukit bintang area has always been dirty with sampah sarap,snatch theft crime,always jam,lots of petty traders harrasing tourist passing by that area,beggars asking small change ,taxi who charge exorbitantly and so fourth.My point is we must look into these problems first before embarking into other initiative!

My 2 cents worth of advice

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