PETALING JAYA,Mar 22: The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia has urged the government to make preparations for the creation of vaccine passports for those who have been immunised against Covid-19 to kickstart the medical tourism sector.
Its president Dr Kuljit Singh said this should not be limited to those who have been vaccinated but also those who have undergone Covid-19 tests and cleared of the virus before travelling.
Kuljit said this offered options to members of the public and incoming medical tourists who had not been vaccinated, citing how the medical tourism sector had generated RM1.7 billion in revenue in 2019.
Speaking of a need for a digital system to provide proof of immunisation for vaccine passports, he called for the utilisation of “blockchain technology”, best known for its use in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
“The healthcare sector recognises the work needed to establish a digital infrastructure that builds trust in patients, particularly medical tourists, and exemplifies safety, both physically and digitally.
“Blockchain technology would be the most ideal solution to implement such a system, especially a decentralised blockchain ledger which would provide anonymity, immutability and more importantly, transparency.
“We first need universally defined standards for how a digital vaccination passport should work, which can be easily adopted and adapted by other countries,” he said in a statement today.
Kuljit said the passport can be implemented within Asean countries first, as a test-run of sorts.
He said the health ministry should serve as the regulatory body for this, adding that medical tourism should be reopened once a large portion of Malaysians is immunised, and not at the end of the vaccination programme.
“The benefits of blockchain technology boost Malaysia’s aspirations to transform our nation into a digitally-driven high-income nation and a regional leader in the digital economy and restart the booming medical tourism sector again as it was in 2019.”