Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi delivering his speech at the Halal Initiatives in Healthcare Industry forum. Pix by Asyraf Hamzah

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's burgeoning medical tourism industry is expected to generate RM2 billion by 2020.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said under the 11th Malaysia Plan period, income from medical tourism is projected to grow 15 per cent annually.

"According to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia attracted about 800,000 medical tourists in 2014 from 770,000 in 2013.

"The earnings generated last year are estimated to be RM730,000 million," he said adding that Malaysia had recently won the Medical Travel "Destination of the Year 2015" award which was presented by the UK' International Medical Travel Journal.

Speaking at the Halal Initiatives in Healthcare Industry forum today, Zahid said in an effort to promote the development of halal vaccines, a joint study had been conducted by AJ Pharma Holdings with the government, through Halal Industry Development Corporatuon (HDC).

"The study verifies that opportunities exist for countries to invest and intensify R&D to develop halal pharmaceuticals, including vaccines for the growing Muslim population worldwide," he said.

Zahid also announced that Saudi-based Al Jomaih Group had invested in two projects at Enstek Halal Park in Negeri Sembilan.

"AJ Biologics Sdn Bhd, with investments totaling RM160 million has been approved to manufacture pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products.

"I am proud to say that this is Malaysia' first ever ‘formulation, fill and finish’, state-of-the-art vaccine facility,” said Zahid.

Zahid said another RM126 million project by AJ Research and Pharma Sdn Bhd, was research driven and geared for the production of high quality pharmaceutical and consumer health products.