KOTA KINABALU: Medical tourism is a growing market in Sabah with the potential to attract Chinese tourists as they are familiar with the culture and Chinese language here.
KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital chief executive officer Mohd Azhar Abdullah said KPJ complemented the government’s effort to attract tourists here.
For instance, the central marketing staff at KPJ tagged along with government agencies or business groups on road shows overseas to promote Malaysia, he said.
“Sabah has great potential for people to holiday and recuperate from their health problems,” Mohd Azhar said, adding the medical tourism promotion efforts were mostly targeted at countries in this region, including the Middle East and China.
“Chinese tourists are a big potential market because they are used to our culture and a lot of our people speak Mandarin.
“We are looking at the Middle East also, the Arabs,” he said in an interview during the lion dance performance organized by the hospital in conjunction with Chinese New Year here yesterday.
He said the KPJ hospital was as good as hospitals overseas, providing quality healthcare services at affordable prices.
“We are comparable to other hospitals in the region, such as Singapore. Whatever they have in Singapore, we have it here,” Mohd Azhar said.
He disclosed that a fair number of doctors at KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital are locals, while some who are not locals are married to locals, which enabled the hospital to understand the local setting.
At present, the number of foreigners at KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital was still fairly low, though it was growing, he said.
“We expect the figure to go up as high as 10 to 15 per cent (of total patients at the hospital),” he said.
On the other hand, Mohd Azhar informed that the hospital was expected to operate at its full capacity of 280 beds this year.
KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital is currently operating phase one with 110 beds, while phase two that is due to open this year will add 170 beds to the hospital.
The hospital started operating in January 2014.
On the event, Mohd Azhar said the lion dance performance aimed to spread the festive spirit to patients and hospital staff.
“We want to share the spirit of Gong Xi Fa Cai with our customers, supporters, friends, doctors, staff and our neighbour from Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2 (QEH 2).
“We try to get patients in the wards to join us if they are well enough,” he said, adding that the hospital strove to organize events for every festival, including Kaamatan, Christmas and Hari Raya to share the festive spirit.
Also present were KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital medical director Datuk Dr Ajaz Ahmad bin Nabijan, consultant cardiologist (intervention) and physician Dr Rowland Chin Wee Ming, chief finance officer Wendy Voo, general surgeon Dr Chong Eng Leong, nursing manager Puan Adilawaty and QEH 2 director Dr Haji Razak bin Tambi.