We took our sick kid to a great children's hospital here in Asia ( Georgetown, Penang) the other week, saw a US trained MD, got 5 medicines ( pharmacy part of the office), no wait, talked extensively with the doctor on the phone before coming ..total costs? 10 bucks! Not something one experiences in America.
Malaysia has a highly rated health care system and is very low cost, so one of the reasons we picked it as our base in Asia. This article calls Malaysia one of the world's best and cheapest, plus says 4 plane loads a day come to Penang just for medical and dental tourism.
In almost 7 years of non-stop travel to 44 countries on 5 continents, we have rarely gotten sick ( until my recent digestive problems) so we are not experts on the health care here, but can give our experience and show you photos. Other expats, and especially a Canadian and Australian expat missionary family friends who lived in Penang for almost 5 years with three kids, first told us about and highly recommended Hope Children's Hospital.
Hope Children's Hospital is a 24-hour clinic and in a very central area along Jalan Gottlieb.
Dr. Chew M.D., a pediatrician and father of 5 kids, is very popular with the expat community and we saw him once last year for something minor and liked him. He wasn't in this time, so we saw another M.D. that we liked.
As a former nurse, organic eating, natural health proponent, non-vaccinating parent and someone who hosted alternative healers at my home in California for many years, I tend to avoid allopathic medicine usually if possible or do it in my own informed way. ( Taking prescription medicines as prescribed is the third biggest killer in the United States and I almost bled to death from a common over-the-counter medicine, so we are very cautious and rarely take any).
We actually went to the Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital in Penang first with my daughter as it was a great help to me last year. I will be writing more on this topic. Alas, she vomited up the boiled Chinese herbs they ordered, so we then came here, just as a precaution when she was almost better after 8 days of fever, diarrhea and some bloody stools. She has never been this sick in her life, but now is back to normal.
Both the Chinese Medicine Acupuncturist and the M.D. thought it was food poisoning ( which I had guessed at as well, based on the symptoms). Apparently she ate something bad at her school, but none of the other kids got sick, nor did we, so it is a mystery, thus now we insist she takes her lunch only and are even more resolute with our organic healthy eating, no junk food program. ( She had slipped and eaten some junk food after school in tuition the day before she got sick...she had forgotten she had a bag of non-GMO organic healthy popcorn that I had made fresh late the night before.)
I was happy that this M.D. ordered a French clay ( natural method) and also probiotics. I had been giving her these things on our own, and don't think an American M.D. would be smart or educated enough to do this ( I've never experienced such in the U.S. and acually found out about the value of healing clay and probiotics through natural healers). He was also smart enough to say we could have her drink coconut water ( which is plentiful here, filled with potassium, good minerals and sold on the street corners fresh), instead of the Pedialyte.
He also ordered an antispasmotic, Pedialyte and Imodium, but I didn't use them as I don't like the possible side effects, so continued with our natural regime which was working. ( Sadly, like M.D.'s in the USA, he didn't go into the medicines side effects and downsides and I had to research that on my own). It is actually quite easy to make a natural Pedialyte that doesn't have harmful chemicals and dyes in it like the ones M.D.'s want you to take. but has the same positive effects on dehydration. Would you like me to post those recipes?
They do have the pharmacy right where you check out and we were the only family there until another one came with a child as we were about to leave. The doctor and staff also speak English ( as well as Mandarin and Malay) which made it fast and easy. ( Although English here is more Manglish, so often hard to understand and bears some repeating often in conversations).
It is pretty scary to have a sick or injured child, perhaps even more so when traveling in a foreign land. This makes me even more grateful to the organic health food regime we have been on which supports her immune system and realize how lucky I am that she is almost never sick.
We've been here five months now and this was our first trip to see doctors. Last year she saw a dermatologist for a very minor thing, to this clinic once for another minor thing and I went to the Adventist Hospital emergency room and a visit to their M.D. GI specialist. All seemed similar to the care we would recieve in the U.S. or Europe. Recently she went back to this clinic for an ingrown toenail and that is all healed.
There is also a highly recommended private hospital in Bangkok that I might visit if I had a major problem as I've heard good things about it. I am more interested in holistic and complementary care so still researching those areas in Asia and looking for a great holistic dentist. Besides wonderful Chinese Medicine herbs and hospitals, there is also a large Indian community here, so lots of cheap Ayurvedic medicine available too.
I've just discoved Penang Momma, who is an expat living in Penang for almost two years and even had a wonderful water birth at a hospital here ( which I was quite impressed to learn) where I found this good list of other hospitals in Penang.