BERNAMA was named the Medical Travel Editorial Team of the Year (Malaysia) at Medical Travel Media Awards (MTMA) 2021 organised by Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC). The winning trio, Erda Khursyiah Basir, Assistant Editor and two Journalists, Soon Li Wei and Muhammad Basir Roslan from Features Desk walked away with a trophy, certificates and cash prize worth RM10,000.
Congratulations on your recent award win! Would you mind sharing with us more on your winning entry?
First of all, thank you so much to Telum Media for featuring us. The Malaysian National News Agency (BERNAMA) has won an award for the second year in a row at the Medical Travel Media Awards (MTMA) 2021. We were nominated based on the articles titled Malaysia’s Healthcare Tourism Gearing Up For Endemic Phase
, Immunotherapy Boosts Survival Outlook for Cancer Patients
, Integrating Modern, Traditional Medicines To Treat COVID-19
, Cross Collaboration Key To Reviving Healthcare, Domestic Tourism-MHTC
, Tricvalve, A Safer Option For Right Heart Treatment
and HIFU Treatment Preserves Women's Fertility Now Available at Malaysia
. We also would like to thank the organiser, MHTC for this opportunity.
What was your strategy to pick and select your submissions to MTMA 2021?
We have written a few articles purposely for MTMA 2021, based on our earlier discussions and planning. Next, we selected our submissions based on the readership as well as the articles’ usage by other media, as well as the impact of the article on the public, based on the sharing rate on social media and comments.
Within your desk, how does the delegation of news assignments look like?
We always conduct discussions and brainstorming sessions. As the person in charge of Features Desk, I (Erda) will give some story ideas while everyone else may also propose their ideas and thoughts. We will discuss how to angle the story, required information, potential interviewees, and the deadline. This is very important to avoid redundancy of the information / stories and ensure that the story leaves an impact on the public / target audience.
Given that we are living in the pandemic, how do you balance out COVID-19 content with other topics relevant to the national interest?
This is why it is important to have discussions and brainstorming sessions, as well as to keep the desk updated, be aware of the writers' planning, and identify who is working on what. Due to the pandemic, most of the writers tend to write stories related to COVID-19 usually in terms of the pandemic itself, its effects, issues on vaccination, psychological impacts, and so on. Therefore, aside from stories related to COVID-19, the desk at the same managed to produce education, environmental, and human interest / lifestyle stories as well to balance our reporting throughout the pandemic.
Nodding to your recent win at MTMA 2021, what is your current observation on medical tourism and your 2022 forecast?
It is undeniable that the global severity of COVID-19 has posed several challenges for the healthcare travel industry as many countries including Malaysia have closed their borders to contain the pandemic. As the nation moves towards living in an endemic, it is crucial for the sector to learn from the lessons throughout the nearly two years under COVID-19, and look into improving the practices to provide a safer and enhanced experience for healthcare seekers.
To ensure the industry is on track for a rebound, tight collaboration between government and private sectors is far more crucial during these trying times. We remain optimistic that Malaysia's healthcare industry will rebound owing to the reputation that the industry has built over the past 10 years, the value propositions of world-class quality, and ease of accessibility and affordability for healthcare treatments.
What are the rooms of opportunity that you would love to explore when it comes to working with PRs?
I (Erda) hope PRs can provide as much information as we need especially when it comes to the recent data and figures that need to complement our story. I would like to thank MHTC for their cooperation throughout the process to complete some of the articles that required their feedback. PRs may also help to alert / provide us on what is the current news / angle that we can highlight especially for the healthcare travel industry to ensure that the industry bounces back.
Would you encourage more journalists to dwell with medical travel beats?
Yes, especially as we are now moving towards living in an endemic phase, there are many issues that we can highlight to contribute to the revival of our healthcare travel industry. Malaysia’s healthcare travel industry had contributed significantly to the nation's economy, having anchored heavily on public-private partnerships, raked in RM1.7 billion in hospital receipts in 2019, with the spillover effects onto other industries contributing an estimated RM7 billion in economic impact. This accounts for air travel, accommodation, food and beverage, leisure activities, and more. The industry has successfully created over 15,000 jobs and attracted RM10 billion in investments since 2012.