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Sabah Aims to Become a Holistic Wellness Tourism Hub in Asia

Advancing Malaysia's well established medical tourism sector

Malaysia medical tourism

Sabah, a Malaysian state in northern Borneo, captivates visitors with its rich cultural heritage and breathtaking scenery. Its relaxing and inviting environment has made it the ideal health tourism hub for numerous wellness facilities, providing a wide range of traditional spa treatments and therapies, as well as seamless consultations with trained medical professionals.

Sabah’s hospitals also provide extensive support, from appointment scheduling to visa arrangements, ensuring patients have an easy and enjoyable path to recovery. Among the popular healthcare institutions in Sabah are Gleneagles Hospital, renowned for its health screenings and specialized cardiology and orthopaedic services; Jesselton Medical Centre, offering genetic testing and aesthetic services; and KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital, providing vaccinations, health screenings, and dialysis services.

Sabahans’ renowned hospitality is further enhanced by their multilingual proficiency, with English and Chinese widely spoken. Its appeal as a tourism destination is supported by significant international arrivals, reaching 231,000 in January-February 2024, as reported by Sabah Tourism’s official website.

Sabah’s collaboration with European Wellness

European Wellness, an acclaimed international multi-award-winning European group known for its cutting-edge work in stem cell therapeutics and regenerative medicine, among other fields, is partnering with the Sabah state government to establish Sabah as a global leader in medical tourism.

Led by esteemed scientist Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Mike Chan, they plan to invest US$80 million in a biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research facility in Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park. This program has also been recognised and supported by the chief minister, Hajiji Noor.

Chan and his Sabahan wife Michelle Wong intend to further develop the healthcare industry in Sabah by focusing on the ASEAN and Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) markets. The collaboration intends to combine Sabah’s natural charm with European Wellness’ expertise to create a holistic wellness experience.

Medical tourism in Malaysia

Malaysia’s healthcare landscape showcases remarkable achievements, particularly with the establishment of the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in 2005. Tasked with promoting Malaysia’s health tourism industry, the MHTC facilitates alliance and fosters valuable public-private partnerships both domestically and internationally.

According to MHTC statistics, in 2022 healthcare tourism volume reached 850,000, with top countries of origin from Australia, Bangladesh, and China, contributing to a medical revenue of approximately 1.3 billion Malaysian ringgit.

The country’s medical expertise in fertility and cardiology treatments positions it as a competitive force in Asia’s medical market. Malaysia has over 30 advanced cardiac treatment centres and high success rates in in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Its dedication to innovation is demonstrated through its thriving medical technology industry, which boasts over 200 manufacturers. Along with this, Malaysia’s ability to provide high-quality treatments at a lower cost compared to Western countries plus well-developed transportation infrastructure, makes it a practical and accessible choice for international patients.

Malaysia’s strides in the healthcare sector have also garnered recognition, with two Malaysian hospitals, Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur and Sunway Medical Centre, earning a spot in the esteemed Newsweek & Statista’s World’s Best Hospitals 2024 list.

Backed by the state government’s commitment to advancing medical technologies and services, coupled with proactive marketing efforts, Malaysia solidifies its position as a leading medical tourism destination in Asia.

About MTM Global

MTM Global is a UK-based international healthcare consultancy and online travel agency specializing in premier health tourism.

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