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Healthcare in Malaysia is among the best in the world. This is particularly evident in the more populated areas and larger cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, but healthcare facilities can be limited in more rural areas.
The country continues to strive to entrench itself as a medical tourism destination, offering affordable and easily accessible healthcare coverage to locals and expats alike.
Public healthcare in Malaysia
As a destination renowned for its healthcare, areas such as cardiology, ophthalmology, dentistry, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, plastic and general surgery, and screening are at the forefront of their respective fields.
Malaysia does not have a national health insurance scheme, but in 2011 the government introduced the Foreign Worker Hospitalisation and Surgical Insurance Scheme, making it compulsory for foreign workers in Malaysia to have medical insurance. Foreign employees are expected to cover the costs for the medical insurance coverage, which sees them getting a fixed amount of medical care each year in government hospitals. A number of companies are contracted to the scheme so expats have a choice when it comes to their insurance provider.
Doctors' consultations are relatively inexpensive and the standards are high; almost all doctors are able to speak English. Dentists and other specialists are equally easy to visit and consultation fees are reasonable.
Private healthcare in Malaysia
Although expats have access to Malaysian public hospitals, many still choose to use private facilities. Private institutions also offer world-class services at comparatively low prices.
Expats who do prefer private healthcare should also consider investing in comprehensive private medical insurance. International health insurance companies offer a variety of packages for the expat market in Malaysia, but it is also possible to shop around in the country and local rates are available with some companies. It is also relatively easy to visit doctors and specialists in both Bangkok and Singapore.
Pharmacies and medicines in Malaysia
Malaysia is not short of pharmacies, which can be found in most shopping centres. Most of these are well-stocked and some drugs that require a prescription overseas do not require prescriptions in Malaysia. Others may ask for a local doctor’s prescription note. Opening times for pharmacies vary, with some in major cities being open till late.
Health hazards in Malaysia
Malaysia suffers from high levels of pollution due to smoke haze, particularly from June to October. Health warnings are regularly issued by the Malaysian government. Pollution can be problematic for expats with respiratory health problems and it’s best to monitor local news about the situation and adhere to any advice issued by the local authorities.
Dengue fever outbreaks are not uncommon in Malaysia, including in Kuala Lumpur and other urban areas, and expats should ensure they take adequate precautions to prevent mosquito bites. The risk is highest during the rainy seasons.
Emergency services in Malaysia
Private ambulance services in Malaysia offer fast and efficient emergency services, though not for free. The emergency number in Malaysia is 999, or 112 from a mobile phone.