MALACCA – Indonesians are drawn to Malacca seeking for ailments treatments due to better medical specialisation, low costs and friendly services offered by the state.
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Known as health tourists, these patients come from places in Sumatra, such as Pekan Baru, Aceh, Batam, Dumai, Bengkalis, Medan and Tanjung Pinang.
They learnt about the services and facilities at several specialist hospitals in the state mainly from the promotions conducted by the medical centres and also from friends who had sought treatment there.
Convenience is another factor that attracts these health tourists as they can either choose to fly from Pekan Baru to Melaka, which takes 45 minutes, or take the two-hour ferry trip from Dumai to Malacca.
Sirajudin Abdullah, 58, of Pekan Baru, said he was driven to come to Malacca for medical treatment after learning from friends who came before him.
"My friends informed me that the treatment in Malacca is good, that there are many specialists and modern equipment is available here," he told Bernama soon after flying in to the Melaka International Airport here recently.
Sirajudin came to seek treatment for a neck ailment he had been suffering from for five years.
Similarly, Sharifah Aini Buyong Efandi, 29, of Medan, has leukemia and learned about the medical services in Malacca through friends and from information gathered from the Internet.
Sharifah Aini, who was accompanied by her mother, Fauziah Abdul Rani, 56, was hopeful that her ailment could be treated with the medical expertise and equipment available at a specialist hospital here.
Abdul Karim Mohd Noor, 73, of Pekan Baru, who is suffering from a prostate ailment, had sought treatment in Melaka several times.
He found that the cost of treatment to be much lower than that in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital city.
Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam said 51,511 of the 136,875 Indonesians who visited Melaka last year were health tourists.
"Indonesia is a growing health tourism market. The Indonesians seek medical treatment at three specialist hospitals in Malacca, namely the Putra Specialist Hospital, the Pantai Hospital and the Mahkota Medical Centre.
"We have the medical specialists and the cost of treatment in Malacca is about half of that in Singapore and Jakarta," he said.
Mohd Ali has always reminded the hospitals to upgrade the quality of medical treatment to remain attractive to the foreign health tourists.
He suggested that the specialist hospitals be more creative and innovative in marketing their health tourism packages, including for the family members who are accompanying the patients.
This would enable the family members to enjoy the various tourism products in the state because Melaka has everything to be found elsewhere in Malaysia, he said.
Senior Manager (Administration) of Putra Specialist Hospital S. Kamalanathan said the hospital had set up a clinic in Pekan Baru to provide preliminary treatment before the patients came to Melaka.
"More than 6,000 people from Indonesia sought treatment at our hospital last year," he said. – Bernama