SUBANG Jaya Medical Centre
SUBANG Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC), a hospital owned by Sime Darby Bhd, expects the number of foreign patients to rise by a third to 20,000 this year.

And in the long run, it wants to have a bigger slice of the local private health tourism market - valued at RM204 million last year - from the current five per cent.

"We are not happy with our market share now and definitely want more," said SJMC chief executive officer Elaine Cheong, adding that various initiatives are taking place to meet this target.

One of the initiatives was inked yesterday with an international partner to increase the number of medical tourists to Malaysia.

The partner, CureOnTour Sdn Bhd, a member of US-based DMN Inc, is a newly established company to promote and assist Malaysia to become one of the leading medical tourist destinations in Asia.

Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony in Subang Jaya yesterday, CureOnTour chairman Bernhard Schutte said the company is targeting in the next five years to bring between 350 and 450 foreign patients into Malaysia a month.

"We will be working with most of the major hospitals here as we believe that there is so much potential for Malaysia to grow big in this market," he said.

Cheong meanwhile said SJMC's foreign patients are classified into two groups, namely the medical type and the wellness type.

The medical type generally come from Indonesia who are here to seek general medical treatment while the Westerners, the wellness type, are here for plastic and cosmetic surgeries.

It is the latter one that SJMC wants to aggressively promote as it claimed to have excellent facilities for the surgeries.

"Apart from that, we also have an excellent cancer centre and we specialise in bone marrow and liver transplants, which cost a fraction of the price in the western countries," said Cheong.

She added that it cost some RM380,000 for a transplant in SJMC compared with S$300,000 (RM696,000) in Singapore.

Cheong said there are five reasons for medical tourists to come here, namely the price, service, quality, availability and tourism.

"A hip replacement can take more than a year in Britain or Canada but not in Asia," she said, adding that in terms of cost, Malaysia is on par with India and much lower than Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

The medical tourism industry is a US$20 billion (RM70 billion) business and is expected to grow to US$40 billion (RM140 billion) in the next four years.

By Roziana Hamsawi - roziana@nstp.com.my