Johns Hopkins Medicine has signed an agreement to open the first private, four-year medical school and teaching hospital in Malaysia in the Baltimore-based health system's latest effort to expand its reach overseas.
Executives from Hopkins signed an agreement with a Malaysian partner Tuesday during a ceremony attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Hopkins will act largely in a consultative and advisory role to the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine and Perdana University Hospital, but will have "significant control over the content and quality of the education delivered," Mohan Chellappa, president of global ventures for Johns Hopkins Medicine International, said in an e-mail.
While Malaysia has public medical schools, this will be the first four-year medical school based on the North American model, Hopkins executives said. The Hopkins name will be on the banner of the school and hospital. The venture also will largely follow the Hopkins operational model.
Hopkins has been expanding its international footprint in recent years. It is involved in partnerships that include managing hospitals and providing clinical consulting in countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Japan, Chile, Mexico, Panama and the United Arab Emirates.
Chellappa said the international growth is part of the institution's mission to bring knowledge to the world. "It also is important to be involved globally to keep one's leading position in the USA," Chellappa said.
The international medical landscape has become more competitive as health care overseas has improved and people can travel to nearby countries for care if it's unavailable where they live, experts said. So-called "medical tourism" to the United States also dried up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Hospitals in turn have been trying to better build their name recognition with partnerships overseas.
"Many of the services are now available closer to home and people don't have to travel across the world," said Renee-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association. "Hospitals have to strengthen their brand."
Hopkins chose Malaysia because it is an English-speaking country that's emerging as the education hub of Asia, Chellappa said. The government wants to train doctors to improve local health care and keep their brightest students from leaving the country.
The new medical school is expected to open during the fall of 2011 and enroll about 100 students its first year. The students will be predominantly Malaysian, although there will be a mix of international students.
Hopkins will develop education programs and help in the design of the campus. It also will take part in clinical affairs. The institution will guide academic development of certain curricula and consult on the teaching environment and infrastructure, pedagogy, administration and student affairs.
The 600-bed teaching hospital will include ambulatory care facilities, diagnostic capabilities and ancillary support services. Hopkins will provide advice on design and development of the hospital.
Hopkins is partnering with Academic Medical Centre Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Chase Perdana Sdn Bhd, a Kuala Lumpur-based private development corporation, and an associate company of Turiya Sdn Bhd. Various Hopkins entities will be involved in the project, including the university, the medical school and the international medicine division.