Patients from these countries also feel comfortable travelling to the country to get high-quality medical care while staying in a Muslim country just like their own.
According to the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), Malaysia attracted 880,000 medical tourists in 2014 and wants to boost these numbers by 10% in 2015 and reach one million in 2016.
Recognising the growing importance of medical tourism’s contribution to country`s GDP, a recent budget has been allocated to promote medical tourism in 2016 and beyond.
The MHTC, responsible for promoting the sector, is now focusing more intensely on halal health treatments to attract medical travellers from Muslim countries. Some hospitals are halal-certified, which means that they serve halal food and have facilities for Muslims, such as prayer rooms – and provide halal medical treatments that exclude products forbidden under Islamic law, such as those derived from pork. Insulin is mostly pork based, but in a halal environment is replaced by bovine products.
This is also the case with gelatin-based products and sutures. Pharmacies in halal hospitals inform patients of products that are free of gelatin and porcine and other halal drugs. A pharmaceutical company in Malaysia, Halal Industry Development, is developing the world’s first halal vaccines for meningitis and hepatitis to be ready for use in 2017.
MHTC has set up deals with governments in Oman, Libya and Kazakhstan to send patients to Malaysia paid for by the state and to pay for healthcare services for its citizens in Malaysia.
Malaysian hospital groups KPJ, IHH Healthcare and Ramsay Sime Darby all have agents in Oman through which health travel arrangement are made. According to the MHTC, there is about 50% growth per year in Omani patients traveling to Malaysia, and within the GCC, Oman is currently ranked third as a source country for health tourists to Malaysia behind Saudi Arabia and the UA