Malaysia 's public health facilities have not completely developed to meet Western expectations of care. As an expatriate relocating or traveling to Malaysia, it is important to have international insurance coverage that will provide security in the case of unfortunate circumstances. Care in foreign hospitals can get very expensive, yet is still the safest option compared to the uncertainty of local health care. Having the comfort of worldwide medical insurance will make you much more likely to enjoy your time in Malaysia, a nation of beautiful sites and modern excitement.
Immediately following Malaysia 's independence from Britain in 1957, many local Malaysians suffered from insufficient health care. Mortality rates were high, particularly due to diseases like typhoid, malaria, viral infections and lack of proper nutrition. This was seen most prevalently in underdeveloped rural areas that had never been privy to the medical facilities that were a remnant of British colonialism. By the middle of the twentieth century, Western health care facilities had been established only in urban areas, since that was where most of the Europeans residing in Malaysia had chosen to live. The legacy of this scattered development led to striking inequity in access to medical care across Malaysia. Urban citizens could access quality care for everyday afflictions, while rural residents suffered, often fatally, from easily-curable conditions.
The uneven distribution of health care during Malaysia 's infancy was exacerbated by a shortage of medical professionals. A handful of doctors had received superior training from colonial health professionals, but this was insufficient to support an independent national health system. Furthermore, the shortage of medical employees extended to all levels, weakening Malaysia 's national health care to the core.
To counteract this evident deficiency, Malaysia 's young government instituted a program called the 'First Malaya Plan'. From 1956 until 1960, this was the schematic that allocated government resources to train and develop effective medical professionals. Within this plan, schools were designed specifically for the education of physicians and paramedics. Also, the expansion of health resources to rural areas became a priority, as well as the establishment of special services outside of large urban areas.
In addition to these objectives, the First Malaya Plan was put into effect as a way to develop a stronger health care infrastructure, including hospitals, clinics and research facilities.
In 1963, the Malaysia that we know today was created. Six years after independence from the United Kingdom, the country that had heretofore been known as " Malaya" joined with two former British colonies on the island of Borneo and the federation of Malaysia was established.
Soon after, the government again revamped ideas to improve health care. "Under the First Malaysia Plan", put in place from 1966-1970, new health care facilities were established in rural areas and scores of new medical professionals trained. Another priority of the First Malaysia Plan was the improvement of public health services that were made available to citizens across the country. These efforts vastly improved the imbalance between health care in cities and that which was available in the countryside. As a new country, Malaysia was developing a medical care system that would be able to meet the needs of its people. Due to a changing demographic and fluid socio-economic conditions, Malaysia instituted a flexible health care development plan that could accommodate the challenges of growth. However, Malaysia still had quite a ways to go in order to meet the standards of care that were expected in developed countries.
The Second and Third Malaysia Plan (undertaken in 1971-1975 and 1976-1980, respectively) were the first to institute the idea of family planning, which was an issue in cities and rural areas alike. The Second Malaysia Plan established a country-wide development program for dental treatment, and the Third Malaysia Plan carried out an even more expansive agenda for building new hospitals and refurbishing outdated establishments. As with the First Malaya Plan and First Malaysia Plan before them, the Second and Third Malaysia Plans (MP) focused on bringing health care to the rural parts of the country where it was badly needed.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, with the implementation of the fourth, fifth and sixth MPs, Malaysia expanded health care reform to include general public education. Malaysian citizens were made aware of healthy practices and methods of illness prevention. In a nationwide consciousness program, Malaysians learned about how to use basic medical technology, were granted access to a reliable health information system and were given methods for primary illness treatment. The objective of the program was to achieve "health for all by the year 2000".
During the seventh MP (1996-2000), emphasis remained on public health awareness. However, with technological advances and a changing infrastructure, the plan expanded to include television and internet avenues that made information more readily available to the people. A broad health information system brought reference material to the populous, while at the same time promoting careers in the medical field and safety at home.
Since the arrival of the new millennia, the eighth and ninth MPs have likewise focused on technology as an avenue for education and change. These programs have also worked to reduce disease burden, develop human capital, extend the availability of health services, focus on providing for the people, and equalize the services between urban and rural areas. Another forefront concern is to improve the nation's capacity to deal with health crises and disaster, the underlying goal being a strongly developed health care infrastructure.
Without the government's vision, Malaysia 's health care system would be decades behind the level that it has reached today. From the inception of the First Malaya Plan, Malaysia has increased the number of community clinics from 26 to 1,919, expanded health clinics from 16 to 895, increased hospitals and medical institutions from 65 to 134 as well as private hospitals from 50 to 233.
As a recently developed country, Malaysia 's forward-looking emphasis on health care has allowed the nation to grow great lengths further than other countries with a similar modern history. However, as an expatriate living in Malaysia, you will find that the medical treatment available still has many ways in which it must still improve.
Malaysia has been a very popular place for investment for foreign health care companies. You will find that the standard of treatment may even exceed your expectations, but on the other hand the medical fees are often much more than you would pay in your home country. Although, recent statistics report that expatriates are visiting Malaysia in increasing numbers primarily to receive medical treatment as the costs are relatively low (ranked 7 on BUPA's chart with 8 being the lowest cost). In order to be sure that you can afford the standard of health care that you deserve, be sure to invest in a quality health care plan before you relocate. This way, you can be assured that, if something should happen to you or your family, you will be able to seek medical treatment without worrying about the repercussions of steep hospital bills.
To find out more about Malasia health insurance plans, contact our insurance experts at Pacific Prime.
Malaysia Travel Tips
It is very hot and humid in Malaysia, with temperatures exceeding 30°C (86°F) in daylight. The region's monsoon season is only noticeable on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. The rainy season on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia runs from September to December. In Eastern Malaysia, the rainy season is between October and February. Be sure to dress comfortably for the heat.
Disease and health threats:
Dengue fever: Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquito, the breed of which is active mostly during the day. This species is found mainly in cities.
Signs of dengue fever include a fever, headache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting. A rash of small red spots sometimes appears after the onset of fever. You should contact local medical facilities as soon as possible if you think you may be infected. There is no vaccine, but transmitting the disease can be avoided by wearing insect repellant.
Hepatitis : There are six types of hepatitis. The symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle pains, and jaundice.
Some types of hepatitis are can be transmitted orally, while some are passed on only through blood contact. Treatment for hepatitis is limited to resting, drinking lots of fluids, eating lightly and avoiding fatty foods. Some types of hepatitis can be serious, but from most types you will be able to recover fully. The worst type of hepatitis is type B, but there is a vaccine.
Malaria : Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes and in some cases can be fatal. The best way to avoid Malaria is to take preventative measures and carry malaria tablets whenever you travel in a likely area. Symptoms are fever, chills and sweating, headache, diarrhea and abdominal pain. If you fear you have contracted malaria, seek medical help immediately.
If medical care is not immediately available, take malaria tablets. Before any travel, ask a trusted physician about the right dosage for you. In terms of preventing malaria, try to avoid mosquito bites in any situation. Wear light-colored clothing that covers your arms and legs and be sure to always wear mosquito repellent that contains DEET.
Rabies : This is a viral infection that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. If you come into contact with a strange animal during your travels, be sure to wash out any bite or scratch immediately. Use soap and disinfectant, and follow up cleansing with medical treatment for a series of anti-viral shots.
Remove your shoes and cover your arms and legs when entering homes and places of worship.
Do not point your foot at someone.
Use your right hand to handle food and when giving or receiving money gifts to or from a Malaysian national.
Most towns have private clinics that can provide medical care. However, it is a very good idea to have international or travel medical insurance because Malaysia has no reciprocal medical care agreements with other countries. Prescriptions can be attained at pharmacies, and traditional Chinese remedies are available for non-threatening ailments.
If you are traveling in Malaysia and find yourself lost, look for a tourist police officer. Tourist police officers wear checkered hat bands, dark blue shirts and pants, and the letter I (¡§information¡¨) on a badge on their shirt pocket.
Malaysia has an eight hour working day with Saturday usually a half day and Sunday off. In the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Kedah, Friday is taken off with Thursday as a half day. Most department stores and supermarkets are open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Tipping is a custom that is being slowly adopted from the West, but is not expected in most parts of Malaysia.
It is generally safe to drink water straight from the tap, but it is safer to drink boiled water and bottled beverages.
Official Name: Malaysia
Capital: Kuala Lumpur (also the nation's largest city)
Location: Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia and is comprised of two geographical regions. Western Malaysia (or Peninsular Malaysia) borders Thailand to the north and Singapore to the south. East Malaysia, located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, borders Indonesia to the south and east and Brunei to the north. Favorably located for trade, Malaysia's eastern coast lines the Strait of Malacca, the busiest trade route in Southeast Asia.
Size: 329, 750 square km
Climate and Topography: Malaysia is situated near the equator and has a tropical climate. Weather is generally warm and humid, particularly during the monsoon season that lasts from October to February. Malaysia can often be dangerous for flooding, landslides, and forest fires as well as the threat of hurricanes and tsunamis. While the land is mostly flat near the beaches and coasts, the terrain arches to mountainous levels in the mainland, including Mount Kinabalu in Eastern Malaysia, which, at 4,101 meters, is the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia.
Population: 2006 estimates exceed 24 million people
Life Expectancy at Birth: over 72 years of age
Prevalence of HIV/AIDS: 0.4%
Major Illnesses: Due to Malaysia's climate, the chance of contracting disease can be high. Diseases to be wary of include bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, as well as dengue fever and malaria. As with any country in Southeast Asia, be sure to take necessary precautions for immunization before travel or relocation, and be careful about skin exposure and consumption while in the country.
Ethnic Groups: Roughly 50% ethnic Malay, 23% Chinese, 11% indigenous, 7% Indian and 8% other races.
Languages: The official language is Bahasa Malaysia. Also spoken are English, many Chinese dialects—including Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow—Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, and Thai. In East Malaysia, several indigenous languages are spoken.
Religion: The official religion of Malaysia is Islam. 60% of the population are practicing Muslims. Approximately 19% are Buddhist, 9% are Christian, and 6% are Hindu.
Government: The government of Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy. Malaysia has been governed by the same political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), since the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. Over time, the UMNO united with other political entities in order to maintain its power. By allying with like-minded parties, the UMNO has remained the dominant force in modern Malaysian politics. This series of coalitions is known as the “Barisan Nasional;” in English, the “National Front.” Malaysia's chief of state is known as the Paramount Ruler, King, or Sultan. This figure also serves as the religious head of Malaysia's Muslim majority. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is chosen from among the House of Representatives. The Paramount Ruler is chosen by the hereditary rulers that represent nine of Malaysia's thirteen states. The legislative branch is comprised of a Senate and House of Representatives. The judicial branch is fashioned after English common law, a remnant of British colonial rule.
Military: Military service is not obligatory and the eligible age is 18 years.
Economy: Malaysia is characterized as a “newly-industrialized” country. Having rapidly developed since its independence from Britain, Malaysia has emerged as a strong exporter of raw materials and reliable producer of goods, particularly electronics. Still in the process of rebounding from the economic slump that hit Asia earlier this decade, Malaysia's economy is growing strong in the face of a number of deterrents. Many economic indicators point long-term growth in Malaysia's economy. Most notable are that Malaysia's currency, the ringgit, has appreciated since being unpegged from the US Dollar two years ago. Furthermore, Malaysia remains a popular location for foreign investment and the government is instituting legislative measures to further growth and expansion of industry.
GDP: Malaysia's GDP is US$313.8 Billion, with a per capita purchasing power parity of US$12,900.