RAISING THE PROFILE

Malaysia 2019 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

MHTC seeks to promote global awareness of the Malaysian healthcare industry and position Malaysia as the preferred destination for world-class healthcare services.

Sherene Azli
BIOGRAPHY
Sherene Azli spearheads MHTC, an agency under the Ministry of Finance Malaysia, as its CEO since 2015. She has a proven executive management track record and over 20 years of experience driving marketing growth in various industries. Prior to joining MHTC, she was the General Manager at Talent Corporation Malaysia. Preceding that, she was with Telekom Malaysia for 15 years, entrusted with high-level positions such as Vice President of Group Marketing and Vice President of Strategy and Business Development. She holds an MBA from the University of Durham in the UK and a bachelor’s of business studies in accounting and finance from the University of Limerick in Ireland.

2019 marks the 10th anniversary of MHTC. How do you assess MHTC's contribution to the development of medical tourism?

MHTC is a government agency that has been entrusted with the responsibility of curating the country's healthcare travel scene. It was founded in 2009 to facilitate and grow Malaysia's healthcare travel industry under the brand “Malaysia Healthcare" with the goal of making the country a leading global healthcare destination. Since then, MHTC has worked to streamline industry players and service providers into a more focused development strategy to raise Malaysia's profile in healthcare travel on an international stage. It is an example of a successful model of PPPs in growing the healthcare travel sector. In facilitating the industry, MHTC works closely with the private and public sectors and as a result we have seen a double-digit average YoY growth of 16-17% resulting in Malaysia attaining MYR1.3 billion in hospital revenue and more than 1 million healthcare travellers in 2017. Malaysia is now known as one of the leading global healthcare destinations. The local medical travel industry offers healthcare travelers a complete package with all the right ingredients: world-class quality, easy accessibility, and affordability while having ease of communication, being a global halal hub, and a travel destination. As a result, Malaysia was crowned “Destination of the Year" for healthcare travel from 2015 to 2017 with a highly commendable mention in 2018 by UK-based International Medical Travel Journal. Additionally, in 2018 LaingBuisson, a healthcare research specialist based in the UK, ranked Malaysia eighth out of the top 25 medical travel destinations by value. Since MHTC was put in place, Malaysia has emerged from being the hidden jewel of Asia for healthcare travel. A relatively young player in comparison to our regional competitors, the country has successfully played catch up and is now a strong industry player within Southeast Asia.

What sets MHTC apart from regional competitors?

Healthcare travel industry in Malaysia is driven by the government and is well regulated under the Ministry of Health (MoH) and facilitated by MHTC. MHTC has set up a partnership program, for which it has identified 76 hospitals in Malaysia, most active in healthcare travel. In enhancing end-to-end seamless healthcare travel ecosystem, MHTC has introduced a call centre and a concierge and lounge at the KLIA/PIA airport, and established partnerships in key target markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. With all these acknowledgements and others, Malaysia has made a name for itself on the global stage. We aim to continue propelling Malaysia's profile as a global destination for healthcare.

What are the most important trends and developments in the medical travel sector, and how is MHTC addressing them?

As the market for medical tourism continues to develop, Malaysia has strengthened its preventive care offerings. The holistic care available in Malaysia gives healthcare travelers the opportunity to combine their treatments with alternative recovery packages. The range of wellness treatments available in Malaysia offers wellness tourists a host of alternative medicine and treatments such as yoga, ayurveda, traditional complementary eastern medicine, detoxification, mental health retreats, and anti-aging treatments. In addition, Malaysia's growth in medical tourism will be linked to more infrastructural development, an expansion of serviceable cities, investment in human resources and advanced international patient training, quality standardization, and enhancing marketing to international markets.

In which fields do you see the largest potential?

MHTC has identified fertility and cardiology issues as the rising trends and developments in the medical travel sector. Many couples from China have sought fertility treatments in Malaysia due to the easy access to quality treatments available here, which are quite affordable. In addition, Malaysia has been a strong center for cardiology treatment. Aside from that, lifestyle changes in the recent years have increased concern of cardiac health from Malaysia as well as globally.