Malaysia-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce President, Dr Shimi Sumathi Muthu said Vietnam, one of the fastest growing economies in the region, offers huge potential for Malaysian hospitals seeking overseas markets and medical tourists.

Dr Shimi, who has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical business and one of the few Malaysian businesswomen in Vietnam, said this year alone, more than 3,000 Vietnamese sought healthcare assistance in Singapore and Thailand.

"The number of Vietnamese going for medical purposes abroad is growing, especially those seeking treatment for cancer and other major diseases. There are also wealthy people who don't want to be seen in hospitals in their own country, so they go to Singapore and Thailand, but hardly Malaysia," she said when contacted in Ho Chi Minh City.

She said the trip is jointly organised by the chamber and Malaysia's Ministry of Health.

During the visit, the doctors, both from government and private sector, would visit several hospitals and other modern medical facilities offered by Malaysia.

"One area that they are looking is for referral cases where patients with major diseases can be sent to Malaysia for advanced treatment,"said the managing director of Prime Suppliers Sdn Bhd, a family-owned distributor of pharmaceutical products operating in Vietnam and other Indochina countries.

Dr Shimi also said members of the Vietnam media would also join the trip to report on the facilities offered by Malaysia.

According to her, Vietnam's 80-million population offers wide potential for Malaysian businesses, and the medical tourism industry was one of the sectors being promoted by the chamber and Malaysian Government agencies based in the country.

At the moment, Thailand's Bumrungrad International Hospital and Bangkok Hospital have sales office in Vietnam, while there are also emergency airlift services to fly patients to Thailand or Singapore.

Bernama (.my) - December 14, 2008