Malaysia is among the world’s top five medical tourism destinations for medical tourists and foreign investors, reports online investment news source Nuwire Investors. Selected based on the quality and affordability of medical care and receptiveness to foreign investment, Malaysia came in third behind Panama and Brazil, and was followed by Costa Rica and India.

According to Nuwire Investors, Malaysia’s medical tourism industry has seen staggering growth in recent years. From 2001 to 2006, the number of foreigners seeking healthcare services in Malaysia almost tripled from 75,210 patients to 296,687 patients. The large volume of patients in 2006 brought approximately USD59 million or RM203.66 million in revenue. This trend is likely to grow at a rate of 30 percent a year until 2010, projects the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM).

Much of Malaysia’s attraction lies in the wide array of medical services and procedures including dental, cosmetic and cardiac surgeries at significantly lower costs compared with the United States. Nuwire Investors also states that foreign medical tourists and investors are attracted by Malaysia’s favourable exchange rate, political and economic stability, and high rate of literacy.

According to statistics quoted on Hospitals-Malaysia.org, the country also offers a comprehensive network of hospitals and clinics, with 88.5 percent of the population living within three miles of a public health clinic or private practitioner. Under Malaysia’s current health tourism promotion drive, 35 private hospitals in the country have been identified to promote Malaysia as a health tourist destination.

Malaysia’s growing reputation on the world healthcare map has also been recognized by a number of international and regional medical associations. This was most evident when Kuala Lumpur was selected to host one of the world’s largest medical congresses, the XVIII FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

Held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in November 2006, FIGO attracted a total of 8,294 delegates from 130 countries. The success and calibre of FIGO spurred an influx of interest from global medical associations, and the Centre went on as host venue for a number of high profile conferences.

The international and regional medical associations are becoming increasingly aware of Malaysia’s drawing card as a value-for-money destination with professional world-class service which does not just extend to medical tourism but to the convention and exhibition market as well.

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