INTERNATIONAL patients are slowly returning to Johor to seek medical treatment after two years of travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Merina, 34, from Batam, Indonesia, jumped at the chance to travel to Johor Baru by ferry after Malaysia reopened its borders on April 1.
“After reading the good news, I immediately made an appointment for a health check-up at a private hospital.
“I went to Johor Baru for medical treatment in 2018 and the experience was pleasant, which made me decide to come back.
“The medical expertise and facilities are quite good here,” said the housewife.
Merina said she and her husband had received their Covid-19 vaccination and also purchased insurance coverage before travelling to Johor Baru.
“After my medical appointment, we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing and shopping in Johor Baru before heading back to Indonesia,” she added.
KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital chief executive officer Mohd Azhar Abdullah said the hospital had been receiving an average of eight to 10 foreign patients daily since Malaysia’s borders reopened.
“The easing of travel restrictions is the main factor for the increase in international patients, especially those from Indonesia.
“There are both new and returning patients at the hospital.
“We look forward to providing our services to more international patients after this.
“The number is expected to increase. We have already received at least 20 appointments for the next few days,” he said, revealing that 20% of the hospital’s patients were from abroad.
He added that travellers must update their Covid-19 RTK results via MySejahtera to enjoy quarantine-free travel.
Shuttle services are provided for the hospital’s patients to and from the Stulang Ferry Terminal as well as to their hotel.
Mohd Azhar said the hospital was working with some of the surrounding hotels to provide more value-added services for international patients, as a way to boost tourism.
Meanwhile, Columbia Asia Hospital Iskandar Puteri general manager Dr Ding Eng Li said the hospital would focus on medical tourism this year by joining the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council to promote its facilities globally.
“We are looking at the Indonesian market due to its geographical location, accessibility and currency exchange, which makes Johor more attractive compared to other neighbouring countries.
“After seeking medical treatment, the patients can take the opportunity to enjoy what Johor has to offer in terms of food, beaches and family-friendly attractions,” she said.
Dr Ding said patients from China used to top the number of international patients seeking treatment at the hospital, followed by those from Indonesia, India and Singapore.
“Things have changed, with most of our international patients now coming from Indonesia and India,” she noted.
KPJ Puteri Specialist Hospital chief executive officer Haliza Khalid said the hospital was aiming for more international patients now that quarantine-free travel was allowed.
She hoped that the unveiling of the hospital’s RM12.21mil refurbished imaging suite would contribute to the increase.
She said that about 5% were international patients among the more than 1,100 scanning procedures the hospital had conducted since the end of March.
She noted that locals too did not have to travel to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore now for such services.