Penang - Best Hospitals - Great Health Care at Low Cost

July 31, 2012

Best Hospitals in Penang

When you are sick or injured in a foreign land, you want to know where to go in an emergency  and of course that is true with our long stay in Penang, Malaysia. For digital nomads and expats, travel health is even more important when you travel as a family with a young child.

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 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.

medical tourism Penang - typical clinic

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.

Children's Hospital and clinic in Penang

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.)

buying prescription drugs at Penang pharmacy

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).

Our sick child watiing at the Children's hosptial in Penang

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.


Island Hospital 

Loh Guan Lye 

1. Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital, Tel: 04-890 7044
2. Pantai Hospital Penang, Tel: 04-643 3888
3. Hospital Lam Wah Ee, Tel: 04-657 1888
4. Hope Children Hospital (at Gottlieb road, near Waterfall), Tel: 04-2286557
5. Hope Children Hospital (at Jln Paya Terubong, Relau, after Equitorial hotel), Tel: 04-829 7926 ‎

Any questions?

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Did I read this correctly? "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 think the US doctors are very smart and educated. And you mentioned that you saw a US trained MD so is that a good thing? I guess I am confused by what you are trying to say.
But glad to hear that your daughter is better!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Sorry about the confusion DL and I will try to clarify. Thanks for the kind words about my daughter being better. ( It had nothing to do with the doctor though as I mention here as she was all but better by the time I took her).

Luckily, she almost never gets sick because we take a wholesome approach to health and healing.

I mentioned that he was U.S. trained as that is important to some people....especially Americans interested in medical tourism. This post was primarily meant to help those who are interested in cheap healthcare as that is no longer possible in the US and many go bankrupt because of the bad and super expensive health care system there.

As I mention in this article and elsewhere, despite knowing a few great M.D.'s, I am not fond of the American health care system or doctor training. The USA is extremely low rated amongst developed nations for health care, so I think there is room for much improvement.

USA's high rate of lawsuits is due to our extremely high rate of medical error ( compared to other industrial nations).

In my experience ( as a nurse who worked many years in hospitals and ICU as well as being a patient and having loved ones as patients) I have witnessed horrors by MD's and find they have no training in nutrition or alternative therapies.

This is why I have been pleasantly surprised by some MD's in Asia and Europe, who have much more openness, education and awareness about alternative, complementary and natural choices.

Some USA MD's are smart, but most are not educated in integrative medicine. I've never been given natural things like clay or probiotics by a USA MD because most are not even educated about the value of such things.

MD's in the USA have actually hurt me MUCH more than helped me, so as I said in this post:

"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). "

I am passionate about this topic, because of direct experience of being hurt by USA MD's. Here are some hair-raising facts from sources like respected medical journals, the Congressional Record, the World Health Organization, and the National Institutes of Health from a book by a USA MD Saputo:

* Medical mistakes are the leading cause of death in US.

* No more than 15% of medical interventions are supported by reliable scientific evidence.

* The FDA approved bad drugs like Vioxx and Lupron, which cost tens of thousands of lives, but 90 studies showing that vitamin D from sunshine reduces cancer risk by 50% have been suppressed.

* Half of all bankruptcies in America are due to medical bills.

* By 201 7, $1 out of every $5 spent will be on health care.

* The US spends more money per capita than anyone, but ranks 37th in health outcomes in the world, just above Slovenia and Cuba.

A smart USA MD also complained about the incestuous relationship between the drug companies ( big pharma) and doctors, researchers and politicians; the book describes how hospitals and health insurance companies have morphed from service industries to profit-driven corporations, and all of them together have created the failed system we have today.

Sounds like you are one of the few happy with the system and I am happy for you, but my experience and opinion is different. So I must write from my experience on my blog.

Here are some quotes from smart MD's that I like:

"Most over-the-counter and almost all prescribed drug treatments merely mask symptoms or control health problems or in some way alter the way organs or systems such as the circulatory system work. Drugs almost never deal with the reasons why these problems exist, while they frequently create new health problems as side effects of their activities."

-John R. Lee, M.D.

"Treatment originates outside you; healing comes from within." Weil M.D.

"My opinion, however, is that they (herbs) are superior 95% of the time to any pharmaceutical drug!"---Willner, M.D.

"Since I had never been seriously ill, I wondered if my (cancer) condition had anything to do with the death of my son. Three years later, as chief of internal medicine in a so-called gynecology-oncology clinic at Munich University, I had the opportunity to study female patients with cancer and to compare my findings to see if the mechanism was the same as mine; if they too had experienced such a terrible shock. I found that all of them, without exception, had experienced the same type of biological conflict as I had. They were able to recollect the shock, the resulting sleeplessness, weight loss, cold hands and the beginning of tumor growth. At the time, my point of view was very different from all the current medical concepts, and when I presented these discoveries to my colleagues, they gave me an ultimatum: either to deny my findings or leave the clinic immediately."---Dr Hamer

"Conventional cancer treatments are in place as the law of the land because they pay, not heal, the best."---John Diamond, M.D. & Lee Cowden, M.D.

"We have a multi-billion dollar industry that is killing people, right and left, just for financial gain. Their idea of research is to see whether two doses of this poison is better than three doses of that poison."—Glen Warner, M.D. oncologist.

"If we doctors threw all our medicines into the sea, it would be that much better for our
Patients and that much worse for the fishes." Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendel
Holmes, MD

"It's supposed to be a secret, but I'll tell you anyway. We doctors do nothing. We only help
And encourage the doctor within." Albert Schweitzer, M.D.

"Finding a cure for cancer is absolutely contraindicated by the profits of the cancer industry’s chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery cash trough."—Dr Diamond, M.D.


Very interesting and quite topical. I am very curious how their heath care system deals with the many who are not able to even pay the much lower health cost. Are they entitled to adequate health care like Europeans?

Roy Steven Ung

Great info on the hospitals in Penang.

May I have your permission to share your blog in mine?

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