KUCHING: Medical industry corporate figures and investment companies in Singapore are looking to expand their medical specialist services to other South East Asia countries, notably Malaysia and in particular Sarawak.
Such a move by the island medical industry will hopefully have a direct impact on the medical tourism here, which the tourism ministry had been gearing up to make Sarawak a destination for people in surrounding countries to obtain affordable and quality medical treatment.
Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil revealed this to reporters at Telok Melano after he launched the Kuching Specialist Hospital community service outreach programme in the village on Saturday.
“Medical tourism is a product that the state must explore and our ministry supports move by the state tourism ministry to expand on this tourist product,” he said.
Dr Jerip explained that Singapore is interested in a country where it can transfer its state-of-the-art medical technology and Sarawak is a good choice because of the geographic distance.
“To boost such an industry and for the state to become the destination of choice, we have to set up such medical centres to get players to come in. We must also encourage international medical conferences to the state to further give the industry a boost,” he added.
Dr Jerip, who agreed with the tourism ministry, said this would generate further economic activities especially the spillover effect on the business community.
He also revealed that there are number of medical doctors who practice in Singapore are from Sarawak.
Dr Jerip disclosed that they are working in many well-known hospitals in there and they would like to come back to contribute to the medical care service in the state.
“These doctors are also well known specialists with good reputation. Their expertise and their services are much needed here. At the same time they can attract patients from Singapore and nearby countries in South East Asia,” he said.
The reason for this trend is because medical treatment in Singapore is expensive and as part of their expansion plan they are looking at nearby countries where it would cost less to set up and run their specialist facilities, he added.
Singapore is thus looking at Malaysia and Indonesia, and Sarawak is ideal because of its geographic location with travelling time of an hour plus by air, he reiterated.
“This will also allow its own citizens from the lower income group to come over to Sarawak by using their employer provident fund to pay for the medical fees,” he further revealed.
Dr Jerip further elaborated that because patients, notably from Malaysia and Indonesia, are keen in getting medical treatment in Singapore, because of their current state-of-the-art medical facilities, a cheaper alternative in Sarawak would be ideal and the business more viable.
In an encouraging note he said Kuching would be hosting the Commonwealth Medical Conferences soon and the World International Orthodontics Association 2014 conference at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.