Malaysia is currently ranked among the world’s top health tourism destinations thanks to its affordable, high quality medical treatment, with over 60% of health tourists making Penang their preferred destination. The rise of health tourists in the recent years has also contributed strong revenue for Penang’s health tourism sector. For health tourism alone, State Tourism Exco Danny Law Heng Kiang shared that ‘Penang generated RM370 million and RM320 million in revenue in 2013 and in 2012, respectively,’ before adding that health visitors from Medan, Indonesian have been strong supporters and contributors to Penang’s booming health tourism.
The huge interest in health tourism sparked the establishment of Penang Health Association in 2006, a task force responsible in promoting Penang’s health tourism as the next ‘Medical City’. Led by chairman Dr Chan Kok Ewe, the Penang Health Association comprises of seven hospitals such as Gleneagles Medical Centre, Hospital Lam Wah Ee, Island Hospital, Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital, Pantai Hospital Penang and Penang Adventist Hospital, who are active participants of the association.
Armed with highly-qualified specialists and well-trained doctors and nurses, both private and public hospitals in Penang offers a wide range of healthcare services. It includes medical and surgical treatments in the likes of orthopaedics and rheumatology, ophhalmology, oncology, cardiology and cadiovascular surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, ear, nose and throat, nephrology and urology, plastic and reconstructive restoration as well as gastroenterology. Plastic, cosmetic and aesthetic restoration are also part of the available treatments around.
Affordable treatment cost also attracted medical tourists to the city. Cost for a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery may amount to US$80,000 in the United States but with similar procedures performed in Penang, the cost is approximately RM20,000. Facelift and rhinoplasty that amount to US$14,500 and US$8,000 respectively overseas might only cost just about RM4,900 and RM3,600 respectively.
Aside from healthcare services and affordable treatment costs, medical tourists visiting Penang will find the environment perfect for rejuvenation and convalescence. Attractions like Penang Hill and Penang Botanic Gardens offer vigorous treks, walking trails and bracing fresh air. Penang Global Tourism’s Managing Director Ooi Geok Ling once shared that ‘Penang is very easy to move around in, and the hospitals are mostly centrally located. It provides city amenities with a village feel.’
Numerous resorts offering spas, reflexology, yoga and meditation, as well as vegetarian and organic restaurants, are scattered around the island, all of which cater to both locals and visitors interested in wellness. Penang's cultural rebirth is not going unnoticed, and it appeals to the well-travelled health tourists.
Health tourism in Malaysia is closely monitored by the Malaysian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism to guarantee visiting patients first class treatment and care. In addition, many hospitals are also ISO 9001 accredited for Quality Management Systems and have Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. Penang’s leading private healthcare institutions meet the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) standards. Here is a list of private and public hospitals in Penang: Public hospitals in Penang Balik Pulau Hospital Penang General Hospital Bukit Mertajam Hospital Kepala Batas Hospital Seberang Jaya Hospital Sungai Bakap Hospital Private hospitals in Penang Bagan Specialist Centre Carl Corrynton Medical Centre Gleneagles Penang Island Hospital KPJ Penang Specialist Hospital Lam Wah Ee Hospital Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital Pantai Hospital Penang Penang Adventist Hospital Pearl Maternity Hospital Tanjung Medical Centre
For more on Health Tourism in Penang, read our article titled 'A Stimulating Break' published on Medical Tourism Malaysia here
'Patients Beyond Borders - Everybody's Guide to Affordable, World-Class Healthcare by Josef Woodman' August 2011
'Penang tops list for medical tourism
' The Star, 5 October 2012
'Penang: Hospital for the Orient - Right place, right time
' Penang Monthly, 25 February 2013
'Penang medical tourism boom taxes state hospital
' The Malay Mail Online, 30 July 2013
'Penang to take advantage of medical tourism boom
' The Malay Mail Online, 22 August 2013