Exclusive Interview: Malaysian Health Tourism CEO upbeat on potential co-op with Azerbaijan’s healthcare sector

© Azer News

__Azernews has had an exclusive interview with Mr\. Mohd
Daud Mohd Arif, Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Healthcare
Travel Council, on the margins of the 4th World Health Sport
Alternative Tourism Congress & Exhibition – Hestourex fair in Baku
on June 23-26.__

__In an interview with Sabina Mammadli of Azernews, Mr\.
Mohd Daud Mohd Arif shared his vision of promoting the potential of
his country’s health tourism sector and invited tourists after
qualitative healthcare destinations to try his country as a
promising venue.__

__Q: What is the significance of holding Hestourex 2022 in
Baku?__

A: This is the first time the event is being
held outside of Turkiye, I think it is the right place to be.
Azerbaijan is a very active country, which wants to become aware of
the global scene. Hosting this kind of event will put Azerbaijan on
the global net. Healthcare is a very important issue right now
globally. Health is paramount. Given that the government of Turkiye
works very closely with the government of Azerbaijan, holding
Hestourex here in Baku is a very important step moving forwards and
it’s also putting Baku on the map where health is concerned.

__Q: What are the expectations of the fair and what do you
think will be the outcomes?__

A: It’s the first time for Malaysia to be here,
and being invited by the government of Turkiye, which we are very
fortunate about. Malaysia has always been the destination for
health travelers. We aim to provide a very good experience for
healthcare travelers coming to Malaysia. Thus, this platform has
two purposes for us. Number one: we want to make people in regions
like Azerbaijan, Turkiye, etc. understand what Malaysian healthcare
is all about, and how we ensure our work services. So it’s an
introduction to Malaysian healthcare within this region. Secondly,
networking is crucial. Attending an event like this gives you an
opportunity to connect with many important people in the industry.
If you work alone you can provide the services only to a certain
extent. We can provide better services, and better coverage and we
can ensure that incoming patients will have the best experience
that they can have.

__Q: Can you tell us about the objectives of the Malaysian
Healthcare Travel Council being in Hestourex 2022?__

A: Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council is a
company supported by the government established in 2011. We have
two main functions. Number one: we are trying to bring in all the
key players within Malaysia so that we can provide the best
healthcare for the patients. An example of this is that we bring in
public and private sectors together. We are bringing in the
immigration offices, tourism agencies, private hospitals, and so
on. When they come together, we tie them up and when the patients
come from abroad they are well taken care of. When the patients
arrive, people from the organization meet them at the airport and
take care of their families. That whole system is managed by my
organization. Secondly, the main objective is to tell the world
that we have very high-quality healthcare services that people of
the world don’t miss out on. I want patients to be aware of
Malaysia’s quality of healthcare, immediate access, and reasonable
cost of treatment.

__Q: What are the new travel norms between Azerbaijan and
Malaysia in the post-pandemic world?__

A: There are two types of travelers in the
post-pandemic age. There are ones who have been waiting to travel;
they are risk-takers, who can’t wait to finally travel. Other ones
are very cautious. Especially, patients. This is where MHTC comes
in to tell people that they can be confident enough to come to
Malaysia. The protocol to enter the country is very tight to ensure
the safety and security of travelers. We want to inform the global
community that it is safe to travel to Malaysia right now.

__Q: What can you say about the state of cooperation
between Azerbaijan and Malaysia in the fields of healthcare and
tourism?__

A: There is a tremendous opportunity. We have
seen a lot of opportunity in terms of collaborations between
private hospitals here and in Malaysia just within the few days
we’ve been here. My colleague has visited Azerbaijan Tourism Board.
The board also wants to learn some of the strategies how Malaysia
promotes its tourism and healthcare services so that they can also
benefit from it. From our side, we see that Azerbaijan is also a
Muslim country, like Malaysia. We have all the medical services
that are Muslim-friendly. We see a lot of potential, which can
benefit both ways. Patients from Azerbaijan can come to Azerbaijan
for tourism and healthcare, and vice versa. I think many Malaysians
would like to see your beautiful country. We love the weather, we
love the people and the city is very clean.

__Q: How have the two years of the COVID\-19 pandemic
affected the touristic flow between the two countries?__

A: It is very devastating. In Malaysia, we
closed the borders in March 2020, which caused the number of
international tourists to go to almost zero. Thus, it was very hard
for the industry in Malaysia and, I believe, in many countries too.
We were aware that ordinary tourists could just stay in their
countries, but patients couldn’t wait. So MHTC took it as its
responsibility to ensure that the patients could still come. Even
though the Malaysian borders were closed, we convinced the
government for only patients to be allowed to come to the country
through our organization. This shows that we really care for our
patients and their safety.

Sabina Mammadli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on
Twitter: @SabinaMmdl

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz