Exclusive Interview: Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council CEO upbeat on potential co-op with Azerbaijan's healthcare sector [INTERVIEW/PHOTOS]
Azernews has had an exclusive interview with Mr. Mohd Daud Mohd Arif, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council CEO, 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 Malaysia 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
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