5 FACTS TOURISTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEALTHCARE IN MALAYSIA
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Updated 29th September 2021
This article is continuously updated.
Medical tourism and healthcare in Malaysia have become booming industries ever since the Malaysian government redistributed the country’s taxes into improving national healthcare facilities. Since that time, people from neighboring Asian countries and all around the globe have been traveling to Malaysia for improved, cost-effective treatment.
COVID UPDATE: Travel to Malaysia has been greatly restricted due to pandemic precautions. See below.
If you are one of many who are planning a trip in order to receive healthcare in Malaysia, then here are five facts you ought to take into consideration:
1. COVID Travel Restrictions and Requirements
Due to the current pandemic, Malaysia has closed off its borders to most who wish to travel there at this current time.
There are some exemptions; however the exemptions do not apply to foreigners from countries that have been exposed to variants of concern. Those that need to travel to Malaysia from these regions will need to ask for special permission from their local Malaysian Embassy, High Commission or the Immigration Directorate.
Those that may be exempt from travel restrictions to Malaysia include:
- Foreign nationals that have Malaysian residences, permanent resident status, a My Second Home Programme Pass (MM2H), or a resident pass
- Foreigners that routinely visit and work in Malaysia who hold a professional visit pass or a temporary employment pass
- Those married to Malaysian nationals in possession of a spouse visa
- Foreign students with an appropriate travel pass or visa
Malaysian officials advise that one checks in with their local Malaysian Embassy in order to make certain of travel requirements as the situation is continuously updating. Sabah and Sarawak (East Malaysia) have additional travel restrictions in place and are only allowing those with residences or employment passes to enter.
Transits: Kuala Lumpur International Airport is still open for those transiting Malaysia to get to other destinations, provided their visit is under 24hours.
Travel within Malaysia: Those visiting are subject to travel restrictions within Malaysia that prohibit movement between states and districts, unless granted permission from the police department. Fully vaccinated individuals may be allowed to travel between 8 of Malaysia’s states provided they can show proof of vaccination via the MySejahtera app.
Roadblocks are in place to ensure travel restrictions. Travel of more than 10km from your place of residence is not advisable and may result in a fine, depending on current restrictions and your vaccination status. Those unvaccinated with special permissions, who are in an emergency, who work in specific industries or who need to travel further for a vaccine appointment may be allowed.
Local travel restrictions may be imposed at any time as a result of a local covid outbreak. One ought to travel with their passport on hand at all times.
The above should be taken into consideration before booking any medically necessary treatment in Malaysia while the country is under lockdown. Check with your local Embassy regarding your vaccination status and travel permissions before travel.
Testing: If not fully vaccinated, it is advisable to take a covid test 1-3 days prior to travel. Covid testing is mandatory upon arrival, even if you were tested negative before traveling. The test is not free and may cost anywhere between RM200 to RM450. Inquire at your local Malaysian Embassy to see if you can apply for insurance to cover the cost.
Quarantine: Travelers will be required to quarantine for 10 days at a government-designated facility, which may be arranged here. If tested positive, you will be required to stay in quarantine until tested negative.
Those who are fully vaccinated with residence in Malaysia may apply to quarantine at their Malaysian home under a digital home surveillance order. You will need to contact the Ministry of Health Home Surveillance Order team before you travel to Malaysia. Your entry pass or visa will be required, alongside your Malaysian residential address, proof of vaccination, passport, up-to-date covid test results and travel itinerary. Permission may be denied.
If you’re traveling from a high risk country, quarantine at a designated facility for 14 days after arrival will be required.
COVID Vaccinations: If entry to Malaysia is approved, it is not mandatory to be fully vaccinated. However, full vaccination allows for access to many facilities within Malaysia, including tourist facilities within the state one is visiting. Covid vaccinations administered in Malaysia are freely available to both citizens and foreigners.
In order for your vaccination status to be approved by Malaysian authorities, one needs to visit a district health office in order to gain a digital vaccination certificate. A record of the certificate is held on the MySejahtera app and the verification process may take anywhere between 7 and 30 days to take effect. No other vaccine certification is valid in Malaysia.
Currently, the following vaccines are accepted:
- Sinovac (CoronaVac)
- CanSino (Convidecia)
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
The requirements for full vaccination may differ from vaccine to vaccine with regard to receiving one or two shots. There is limited information on whether Malaysia allows for mixing vaccinations or booster shots in order to achieve full vaccination status. It is advisable to enquire with your local Embassy before travel to see if you’ll qualify.
2. Mandatory Vaccinations Before Departure
Before you go get a slice of healthcare in Malaysia, you ought to make sure you have had vaccinations for the following:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Yellow Fever
- Japanese Encephalitis
Consult with your healthcare practitioner before you depart to find out which vaccinations are applicable to you. In a few instances, certain vaccines only apply if you are planning to visit rural areas of Malaysia or if your last vaccine was more than 5-10 years ago.
3. Public Hospitals Are Only Accessible to Locals
Healthcare in Malaysia is divided into the public and the private sector. Even though the public sector maintains good international standards in big city centers, these facilities are only available to Malaysian citizens.
While Malaysian nationals may receive cheaper treatments at these public facilities, private hospitals in Malaysia are still more cost-effective than opting for healthcare in the US. In many cases, the private sector also offers better doctors with a wider variety of specialties - at roughly a third of the price.
4. Avoid Treatment in Rural Areas
Rural areas in Malaysia are still in need of upgrading their healthcare facilities and as a result, the treatment you would receive there is likely to be of a poorer quality. It's best to stick to JCI accredited hospitals and health clinics in big city centers such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, which maintain the strict global golden standard of universal healthcare.
5. Be Wary of Over Prescription and Counterfeit Drugs
There are two things that all foreigners seeking healthcare in Malaysia should be aware of: doctors that over-prescribe and counterfeit drugs.
Both of these problems have been more or less controlled in the last few years, but the possibility still exists. If you meet a doctor that prescribes many different kinds of medications, it is advisable to get a second opinion as the effects of taking too many drugs can sometimes have severe consequences.
Only buy your medications from reputable pharmacies and be wary of no-name brand generics which could be counterfeit medications in disguise.
6. International Insurance May Be Useful
As healthcare in Malaysia does not extend its policy to outsiders, having international insurance is advised. Although treatment in Malaysia comes at a fraction of the cost of healthcare in Western countries, insurance can still help you pay for unexpected medical costs. These may break the bank, especially if you only have a set budget for travel.
To search for hospitals in Malaysia, please visit MyaCare.
-  https://travelbans.org/asia/malaysia/
-  https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210808-malaysia-to-ease-covid-restrictions-for-fully-vaccinated-in-eight-states
-  https://www.klook.com/en-MY/blog/malaysia-covid-swab-test-kl/
-  https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/malaysia/
-  https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/511531/malaysia-authorities-ease-covid-19-restrictions-for-fully-vaccinated-individuals-from-aug-10-update-52
-  https://www.klook.com/en-MY/blog/faqs-covid-19-vaccine-malaysia/
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-  https://internationalliving.com/countries/malaysia/healthcare-in-malaysia/
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