KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 —The government has given RM35 million to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in Budget 2021, but made no allocations for public hospital patients to seek treatment at private hospitals.
Finance Minister Senator Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced today during the tabling of Budget 2021 in Parliament that MHTC’s allocation was to enhance the local health tourism industry, amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has halted global travel.
MHTC previously told CodeBlue that it estimated a 75 per cent decline in medical tourism revenue for the country this year. Malaysia’s medical tourism predominantly relies on international travellers who seek treatment at private hospitals here.
Morevor, the government has extended income tax exemption for export private health care services until 2022.
However, it was noted that for Budget 2021, most of the allocations for health have been made for Covid-19 vaccines, one-off payments for frontliners, tax relief on medical expenses, and Covid-19 expenses like personal protective equipment and test kits and supplies.
Association Of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) president Dr Kuljt Singh told CodeBlue that he hoped the government would allocate a budget for public hospital patients to seek treatment at private hospitals, while their treatment for non-Covid-19 diseases gets delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“APHM is happy to note the budget this year has focused on further containment and control of Covid-19, inclusive of getting vaccines when available, for the citizens of this country. There is a lot of support and appreciation to the frontliners,” Dr Kuljit said.
“However, we hope patients who are waiting for treatment in public hospitals will have a budget to be sent to private hospitals for early treatment as the Covid-19 pandemic is being mitigated.”
At the same time, Dr Kuljit acknowledged that the RM35 million allocated for MHTC will help private hospitals to jump-start medical tourism once borders are open.
“APHM is thankful to the government for this as medical tourism is one of the income generators for the country based on 2019 data,” the president of APHM said.