Saturday, March 23, 2013

Healthy growth for health sector

The Star Online

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong LaiDatuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's health travel sector generated RM571mil while exports of its pharmaceutical products earned RM562mil in 2012 alone, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
This was due to the Government's efforts in promoting medical tourism through improved customer experience, proactive alliances and niche marketing.
“Through 13 Entry Point Projects (EPPs), the National Key Economic Areas for health aspire to contribute RM32.4bil to Malaysia's gross national income by 2020,” he said at the Economist Conferences' 4th annual Healthcare in Asia 2013 here yesterday.
Under the pharmaceuticals EPP, Liow said the industry was leveraging on the patent expiration of major “blockbuster” drugs by pursuing generic export opportunities.
He said these projects would have a direct impact on Malaysia's healthcare infrastructure and indirectly result in greater quality care for patients.
“For example, the increase in hospital beds, doctors and nurses due to the growth in the industry will reduce waiting times for patients, shorten the turnaround time on diagnostic and radiological services and improve the quality of patient outcomes,” he said.
Liow added that the Government had taken various steps to attract and retain human resources through fixed time-based promotions for doctors, dentists and pharmacists and by increasing on-call and specialist allowances.
Scholarships and the intake for master's programmes for doctors had been increased to 800 from 600 per year to address the shortage of medical specialists.
“Malaysia aims to achieve a doctor-population ratio of 1 to 500 by 2018,” he said.
Liow stressed that health and healthcare were viewed as investments and not costs to the country.
As such, he said access to healthcare was now available to the whole population with about 90% of the population living within a 5km radius of a static health facility.

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