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by The Expatriate Lifestyle Editorial Team 2 Jun 2013


Healthcare in Malaysia is an established and efficient service compared to many other nations in the region. Many doctors here are trained overseas which brings about the fact that a fair number of them are English speaking though this does not necessarily apply to nurses and other medical staff. The Ministry of Health holds the responsibilities of the healthcare system in Malaysia which is broken into many segments such as public health, research and technical support, medicine, pharmaceutical services and dental health.

Hospitals are easily found in Malaysia especially in cities and town areas and are comprised of public and private hospitals. Both public and private hospitals have their pros and cons.

Other medical issues such as gaining health insurance, giving birth in Malaysia, dental health, opticians, physiotherapy, alternative therapies, and inoculations will also be discussed over the next few pages. Altogether, the healthcare system for expatriates in Malaysia need not be a main worry as its reputation for efficiency has been proven rightfully throughout the years.


Local hospitals in Malaysia are scattered widely in heavily populated areas and offer adequate service to members of the public. Although public hospitals perform basic disease management and patient data management and provide satisfactory reliance, these hospitals come up short in terms of technology investment and research compared to the private establishments.

Local hospitals offer service to Malaysians at a minimal fee and charge foreigners double the local rate. The catch is that foreigners are permitted to government hospitals only in times of emergencies, as emergency cases are prioritised. As only holders of a MyKad (Malaysian ID card) are permitted to enjoy services and facilities of government hospitals, these hospitals are not at all popular among expatriates. We strongly recommend private hospitals for check-ups and treatment.

Private hospitals are a definite choice for most expatriates in Malaysia. Most private medical centres offer state-of-the-art services including medical screening services, diagnostic services, curative/therapeutic services, as well as dental services.

Medical fees can be expensive but reliance and efficiency are considerably better in private hospitals. Most hospitals expect immediate cash payment although major credit cards are acceptable.
Patients with minor injuries and sicknesses are advised to head to a private clinic for reasonable yet quality treatment and medication.

Many types of private clinics are prevalent in Malaysia such as general out-patient clinics, polyclinics, specialist clinics and fertility clinics. Private clinics are available in most neighbourhoods, however, patients should stick to a regular clinic to make future visits more convenient.


Opticians in Malaysia are generally a reliable and professional service for basic eye care and maintenance. Opticians offer the basic service of correcting lenses based on prescriptions supplied by an optometrist. Hence, corrective lenses in the form of spectacles and contact lenses are common and easily available at affordable prices. Optical centres can be found in most neighbourhoods and also at shopping malls.

Also available are corrective eye surgery, cataract removal and eye laser surgery at eye specialist centres. This type of surgery usually costs above the RM 1,000 mark, however, service and treatment are of the utmost quality. The Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital is one of the well-recognised private eye institutions in Malaysia for its prestige and professionalism. However, it is not a given that all staff members at this hospital are English-speaking.


Physiotherapy in Malaysia is a relatively new field under the medical line. Although the number of physiotherapists in Malaysia is still low, most of them are highly qualified through overseas training in the UK, Australia, India and New Zealand.

It is recognised by researchers that awareness on physiotherapy in this country is gradually increasing, as is the scope of practicing physiotherapists. Some of the services provided by physiotherapists are cardiac and head injury rehabilitation, treatment after hip replacements and amputations, and application of plaster casts.

Also, exercises and techniques to relieve joint, muscle and nerve injuries are discussed with patients. Physiotherapy is available at major government and private hospitals for varying prices depending on treatment.


Alternative therapies in Malaysia have been established since the pre-independence days but have lost their popularity after the rise of modern medicine. However, they are slowly resurfacing as a trend among patients.

As conventional medicine has proven ineffective in unique cases, some patients have resorted to alternative therapies such as Ayurveda, acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathy. These therapies have been used with high success rates and as a result, gained positive acclaim.

Ayurveda is a system which uses the principles of nature to maintain an individual’s body, mind and spirit. Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese treatment which involves the insertion of acupuncture needles into the skin at specific points on the body in order to achieve a therapeutic effect.

Chiropractic is based upon the idea that good health heavily depends on a good nervous system.
Homeopathy, on the other hand, is based on the idea that small doses of a substance which causes a symptom can help cure a disease.

Many government medical centres do not offer alternative therapies as most of them have great belief in modern medicine. Nevertheless, you can find many private hospitals beginning to offer alternative therapy in Malaysia.

Expatriates should have no qualms in receiving alternative therapy as medical staff are highly professional and qualified. Prices vary depending on the procedure and patient’s state. We suggest you look up the therapy you are planning to undertake in order to gain a clear picture prior to treatment.


As an expatriate moving to or travelling in Malaysia, your time abroad will be much more enjoyable and secure with the protection of reliable medical insurance. International health insurance is available for expatriates here. However, we suggest a thorough comparison of quotation prices for the best deal.

As a working expatriate, it is advisable to enquire in to the medical policies of your company as most companies in Malaysia have a regular panel of doctors for employees to attend to. Upon treatment, medical fees are then insured by the company. With this, expatriates can enjoy free treatment from particular doctors and medical centres adhering to the coverage limit and company policy boundaries.


According to recent research, Malaysia’s quality of maternal and child care is categorised with the world’s best. Midwifes perform deliveries at local hospitals whereas doctors perform them at private hospitals. Prenatal and postpartum care for parents is guaranteed to be of quality and professional service be it at a local or private hospital.

Expatriates can attend regular check-ups at a private women’s wellness clinic or a fertility clinic at the initial stages of the pregnancy. It is highly advisable to have a regular doctor in your books to ease understanding between the doctor and patient. If the condition becomes complicated, the doctor at the clinic will most usually refer the patient to a hospital for further intensive treatment.


Primary oral healthcare is essential whether at home or abroad. Dental health in Malaysia is highly efficient and most centres boast the latest technology and equipment. Dental health services are not available in most hospitals, however, a good number of private dental clinics can be found in major towns and cities. Plus, many dentists here are trained overseas, guaranteeing a good command of the English language.

Services offered by Malaysian dentists are dental public health, endodontics, oral surgery, cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics among other, more specialist treatments. Complex surgeries are usually conducted at big hospitals with dental units, though basic corrective surgery such as the applying and removal of dental braces can be carried out at private dental clinics.


Some of the prevailing diseases and infections in Malaysia are malaria, cholera, dengue fever, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. A number of these diseases require vaccinations in order to prevent these nasty diseases, which can sometimes prove fatal. There are no mandatory inoculations, however, it is wise to update your tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, measles and tetanus inoculations.

Expatriates do not necessarily have to visit a hospital for these vaccinations as certain clinics provide them as well. Sterility of equipment need not be a worry for patients as clinics and hospitals hire highly trained nurses and staff to perform these duties. An appointment is not necessary prior to getting a vaccination, however, an appointment can be set up with a doctor to discuss the necessary vaccination for you. Inoculations are generally affordable.

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