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Over the years, Malaysia has continuously improved its healthcare system. The prevalence of medical schools and high-end hospitals providing excellent service attest to the fact that Malaysia is providing quality healthcare, not only to its citizens, but also to expatriates and tourists.
Malaysia is also a popular destination for medical tourism. Particularly in the areas of cardiology, dentistry, gastroenterology, screenings, general surgery, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, and plastic surgery.
Malaysia has a comprehensive range of high-quality public healthcare services, funded by taxes. These services are available for all citizens and permanent legal residents. The Malaysian government is committed to its principles of universal access to high-quality healthcare, which the local Ministry of Health offers through a network of nationwide clinics and hospitals.
However, despite government dedication, there are still some unsolved problems. One of these is the limited availability of quality healthcare centres in remote areas. In order to deal with the issue, a tool called “tele-primary care” has been designed. This allows doctors in remote areas to discuss problem cases through tele-consultations with specialists and doctors in other hospitals. In general, though, public hospitals in Malaysia are outstanding and are stocked with the latest in medical equipment.
Doctors in Malaysia are generally knowledgeable, professional, and fluent in English. Before practicing, these doctors are required to complete three years of service in public hospitals throughout the country, ensuring there is adequate cover for the general population. Foreign doctors are also encouraged to share their expertise in Malaysia. These foreign doctors are expected to be highly qualified and tend to work in public hospitals, as positions in private practices are hard to come by and in high demand.
There is an extensive network of high-quality private healthcare options in Malaysia. These are generally of an excellent standard and service mainly expats and wealthy Malaysians. In order to make use of the private healthcare system, the Malaysian government requires that all non-residents and expats have private medical insurance.
While this may result in medical care being more expensive than it would be for locals and permanent residents, it is still likely to be cheaper than what most expats from North America and Western Europe would expect to pay in their home countries.
Pharmacies and medication
Pharmacies in Malaysia are abundant and easily accessible. They are usually well-stocked, and pharmacists tend to be helpful and well informed. Expats will often find that drugs which require a prescription in their home country do not require one in Malaysia.
Prescription medication in Malaysia is generally cheaper than in most western countries. When travelling to or from Malaysia expats are advised to carry all medication in its original packaging with an official prescription. It is also recommended that expats are aware of the generic names for their prescription medication, as brand names may vary from country to country.
Expats living in large cities like Kuala Lumpur will be exposed to very few major health hazards. However, it is still recommended that all expats are up to date on routine vaccinations. These include hepatitis A and B, typhoid and yellow fever.
However, it is advisable that in addition to these routine vaccinations expats living in more remote areas are also vaccinated against Japanese Encephalitis.
Emergency services and important numbers
Expats will find that ambulance services in Malaysia’s urban centres offer fast and efficient emergency medical care. Those with medical insurance should not have to pay exorbitant amounts for ambulance services.
Emergency services tend to be more reliable in major urban areas and expats living in remote regions of Malaysia should take note of the contact details for their nearest local hospital. Expats living in these remote areas should also have an alternative means of getting to hospital when necessary.
The emergency number in Malaysia is 999 and emergency line operators can usually speak at least basic English. Expats should also know the contact details of their nearest local embassy or consulate for cases of emergency.