Private hospitals are pleased with the government’s announcement that returning Malaysians and international travellers who are fully vaccinated do not need to undergo quarantine upon arrival in the country from April 1, 2022.
Medical tourists, particularly from neighbouring countries, have lessened significantly in the last two years, since the start of the pandemic.
Patients who frequently seek treatment in Malaysia have been requesting to be readmitted to private hospitals to recommence treatment or seek new therapies, particularly in Penang, Melaka, and the Klang Valley.
The treatment cost in Malaysia is comparatively cheap, hence private hospitals saw an increase of medical tourists in 2019 to about 1.22 million.
We have doubled the numbers of medical tourists since 2011, as we are able to provide world-class treatment at an affordable price, when compared to other Asian countries.
With the reopening of borders, private hospitals will strictly adhere to all standard operating procedures set by the Ministry of Health (MOH), in making sure that there is no increase in Covid 19 transmission due to medical tourists.
Unvaccinated medical tourists will undergo compulsory quarantine.
Medical tourism has enhanced the level of private medical care in Malaysia, and in recent times, we have come to an understanding with the government to treat patients decanted from public hospitals at a negotiated cost.
This has greatly benefited Malaysian citizens who cannot otherwise afford private treatment. This programme is ongoing and is regulated and controlled by the MOH.
We hope that in transitioning into the endemic phase, private hospitals will still be able to participate with the government in various fields, from vaccination to treating full-paying Covid-19 patients. This will undoubtedly ease the burden of public hospitals.
In addition to support from the government, we hope insurance companies will also step in to assist patients infected with Covid-19.
The approval of antiviral medications for Covid-19 should also be extended to private hospitals, as there is a huge number of private patients who are seeking treatment for long Covid.
Dr Kuljit Singh is president of the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM).
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