Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hospitals looking at three countries

Thu, Jul 23, 2009
The New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian hospitals are wooing Vietnamese and Cambodians in the promotion of their world-class and value-for-money medical services.

A long-time favourite with Indonesians, Singaporeans and people in the Middle East, the hospitals are also trying to attract Bangladeshis.

Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) president Datuk Dr Jacob Thomas said the three countries were targeted as they had a fast growing middle-class population which was health conscious.

Moreover, Vietnam and Cambodia were only about 90 minutes away by flight, he added.

He said Malaysia was looking at capturing at least 10 per cent of the medical tourists from the three countries.
Dr Jacob said Vietnam had a population of 85 million, and about 300,000 Vietnamese went overseas for medical treatment last year.

"If we can attract 10 per cent of these tourists, then we are on the right track."

He said a delegation went to Vietnam and Cambodia last year and last April to promote Malaysia's private hospitals and their facilities.

"Many of them were unaware that our hospital facilities are at par with Singapore, but our treatments are 40 to 60 per cent cheaper."

He said the visit resulted in some hospitals setting up representative offices in Vietnam and Cambodia to promote their services.

Dr Jacob is bullish about the initiative and expects to see medical tourists from Vietnam and Cambodia within two years.

On Bangladesh, Dr Jacob said a delegation would be sent there next month.

Pantai Hospital senior manager for group marketing (international) Anwar Anis said Vietnamese and Cambodians usually sought treatment in Thailand but the political uncertainties there had forced them to look elsewhere.

He said Pantai had already set up an office in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City and was already getting enquiries.
Asked why Malaysia was targetting only medical tourists from the Asian region, Dr Jacob said this was due to the great potential of the region whose surface Malaysia had barely scratched.

Also, it was more expensive to penetrate the Western market where private hospitals had to spend up to five times more on advertising and promotions, he added.

"Besides that, Westerners prefer US-friendly countries such as Singapore and Thailand."

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