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Taking a peek into Penang medical tourism industry

* This is a reproduction of my article published in Penang State Tourism Official Website
BY CK Lam

Travelling abroad for seek medical treatment which is term as “medical tourism” is becoming more common nowadays. At the forefront of medical tourism in Malaysia is the state of Penang, where both the central and the state government is actively promoting this industry.

Penang has been listed by several websites as a highly recommended place to seek medical treatment not only because of its competitive price but also for its well educated community. The hospitals are staffed by highly trained doctors and nurses as well as having excellent and modern facilities. Majority of the doctors are educated, trained, and board certified in US, Europe and Australia. For the families accompanying the patients, Penang has much to offer in term of temporary lodging, shopping and getting around.

The healthcare system in Penang is widely perceived to be good when it was first established by the colonial authorities. In the state alone there are six public hospitals and eleven private hospitals and three nursing school serving a population of just over two million people.

Most of the private hospitals and medical centres in Penang have achieved certification for internationally recognized quality standard and accreditation by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH). In addition, all private medical centres are approved and licensed and strictly monitored by the Ministry of Health. Most hospitals are fully equipped to deal with the full range of medical conditions ranging from life-threatening illness and injury to chronic medical disorders and maintaining personal fitness.

Island Hospital, Penang Hospital
Island Hospital


The industry got the ball rolling when patients from neighbouring countries, especially the Indonesian city of Medan regularly visit these hospitals for quality treatment because the cost was less compared to places like Singapore. Even the travelling distance to Penang was much nearer. Since then Penang has became the preferred destination for European, US and Australian seeking affordable cosmetic and elective surgery.

Penang Adventist Hospital (accredited by JCI) is part of an international network of some 500 non profitable hospitals, clinics and dispensaries worldwide operating under the Adventist Health Network. Under this network includes the world famous Loma Linda University and Medical Centre in California, U.S.A. They are the first private hospital in Northern Malaysia to perform Micro-vascular, Coronary Bypass, Laser Heart Surgery (TMR) and open-heart surgery.

Penang Adventist Hospital


Gleneagles Medical Centre Penang (accredited by MSQH) is operated by ParkwayHealth, a company that operates sixteen hospitals throughout Asia including the famous Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. It has a fully equipped cardiovascular unit that serves as a regional referral centre for cardiac care. Another hospital that has established an international reputation in Penang is Island Hospital (BS ISO900:2000) which, apart from the usual facilities, also has a heart centre, urology centre, fertility centre and laser vision-correction centre.

Gleneagles
Gleneagles

Beside these factors, what else Penang have to offer to the health travellers and probably their accompanying families? Penang can also be said to be a “healing” destination, as after the patient has surgical treatment there is a need to have a comfortable and peaceful recuperation. Penang is a cosmopolitan town, but more laid back than other hustling mega-cities throughout Asia.

It was voted as among the “20 Best Island to Live On” by Island Magazine in August 2007 issue. For the accompanying families, accommodation is not a problem. Hotels like Berjaya Georgetown Hotel in Penang are just practically opposite Penang Adventist Hospital and less than ten minutes drive from Gleneagles and Island Hospital.

Service apartment are available and located nearby the vicinity of the hospitals.  Apartment stay allows cooking and other amenities. There are many apartments near to the markets, banks and shopping centres. For those who prefer to cook, you will be able to practically get anything you need from the market. The supermarkets are well stock with local and international brands of cooking ingredients. Restaurants and street food are also aplenty with a wide variety of food available, including international cuisines too.

Language is never a problem in Penang. Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) is the national language, with English, Mandarin and Tamil widely used too. The staffs in most of the private hospital are fluent in English and Bahasa Malaysia – no interpretation or translation required and this will certainly make communication easier for travellers.

Compared to the USA or the UK, the medical costs here are relatively low even compared to other countries in this region. The cost for a heart bypass surgery in the USA, for example, can be 14 times higher than the cost in here, despite using the same current technology and method. Furthermore, the exchange rate is highly favourable and stable.

Against the dollar it floats around US3.50 to one Ringgit and it has been at this rate for a number of years. This mean the cost of seeking treatment here will be made further cheaper. For example the Gleneagles basic standard executive health screening test including examination, electrocardiogram, chest X-ray and blood and other tests cost RM455.00, converting to US dollar would only be US130!

The other factors that made Penang the preferred choice is that it is conveniently link by air to all major cities of South East Asia and the infrastructures is advance and excellent. Last but not least, Penang is considered a safe destination without any history of terrorism and the crime rate is low. Penang prides itself as an exotic tourism destination with attractive heritage sites, beautiful beaches, greenish hillsides and pack with uniquely ethnic cultural events and is well known for its warm, friendly and generous hospitality. In 2007, UNESCO awarded George Town as a World Heritage Site.

Penang’s growing reputation as a preferred health and medical destination sees it welcoming visitors from around the world seeking remedies. Together with its warm and generous hospitality, Penang is definitely the first choice.
List of Hospitals in Penang:-
Public Hospitals :
Penang General Hospital or GH
Balik Pulau Hospital
Seberang Jaya Hospital
Bukit Mertajam Hospital
Sungai Bakap Hospital
Kepala Batas Hospital

Private Hospitals:
Island Hospital
Gleneagles Medical Centre Penang
Pantai Hospital Mutiara Penang
Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre
Hospital Lam Wah Ee
Penang Adventist Hospital
Mount Miriam Hospital

Hospital Directory:
Gleneagles Medical Centre Penang1, Jalan Pangkor, 10050 Penang.
Tel: 604-227 6111
Email: admin@gmc.po.my
Website: www.gleneagles-penang.com
Hospital Lam Wah Ee
Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim,
11600 Penang
Tel: 604-657 1888, 604-652 8888
Email: hlwe@po.jaring.my
Website: www.hlwe.com.my
Island Hospital
308, Macalister Road, 10450 Penang
Tel: 604-228 8222
Website: www.islandhospital.com
Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre
19 & 21 Logan Road, 10400 Penang
Tel: 604-238 8888
Email: Isc@lohguanlye.com
Website: www.lohguanlye.com
Mount Miriam Hospital
23 Jalan Bulan, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Tel: 604-890 7044
Email: enquiry@mountmiriam.com
Website: www.mountmiriam.com
Pantai Hospital Mutiara Penang
82, Jalan Tangah, Bayan Baru,
11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang
Tel: 604-643 3888
Email: admin@hpm.com.my
Website: http://www.pantai.com.my/site.cfm?hid=5
Penang Adventist Hospital
465 Jalan Burmah, 10350 Penang
Tel: 604-222 7200
Email: AdventistHealth@po.jaring.my
Website: www.pah.com.my

Zac Teo

Zac Teo

Zac Teo is a Penang boy, being born and raised on this island. A music lover that always seeks new music to enjoy along with his daily dose of coffee; he loves traveling, exploring and also hunting for the latest food around the island. His penchant on writing about his beloved island led to him starting up Penang365.com in 2015.

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