Living in Kuala Lumpur?
Health and Education in Kuala Lumpur
Health Issues: Earthquakes and Haze
Expats worried about their health should take some more things into consideration when moving to Kuala Lumpur: The city has a hot and humid tropical rainforest climate. If you come from a cooler, more temperate region, it can take a while to get used to it. The local climate also features a heavy monsoon season, which often leads to flooding. Although the 2004 tsunami disaster only touched Malaysia slightly, earthquakes remain a possibility.
However, health issues caused by the so-called “haze” are far more likely than an earthquake: The mixture of industrial smog, smoke from forest fires, and car exhaust fumes puts a huge strain on infants, kids, the elderly, and people with allergies, heart problems or respiratory diseases.
Furthermore, life in Kuala Lumpur requires prophylactic measures against dengue fever and malaria as well as number of immunizations. These include vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A/B, typhus, rabies, cholera, and Japanese encephalitis.
Medical Infrastructure: Consultations and Private Hospitals
Fortunately for expatriates, the healthcare infrastructure and the quality of medical care in the Greater Kuala Lumpur region are considered good. There are smaller medical centers and dentist offices at many of Kuala Lumpur’s shopping malls. A brief private consultation costs about 35-40 MYR; sometimes, foreigners are asked to pay more, but a normal consulting fee probably shouldn’t amount to more than 100 MYR (about 23 EUR or 25 USD in August 2015).
In case of serious illnesses, surgery, or comprehensive treatments, it’s essential to have private health insurance. Malaysia does have a universal basic healthcare system, but this does not cover hospital stays in private clinics catering to affluent locals, foreign residents, and medical tourists.
A day in a single room of a private hospital costs up to 1,000 MYR (in a VIP or deluxe suite room), not including doctor’s fees, medication, and nursing care. You are expected to pay immediately, but a private insurance provider will reimburse you later on.
Popular Hospitals and Emergencies in KL
Some private clinics and large medical centers are particularly popular with Kuala Lumpur’s expat community. These include the Prince Court Medical Centre (24/7), the Gleneagles Intan Medical Centre (24/7 ER), Pantai Medical Centre, and the Twin Towers Medical Centre in downtown Kuala Lumpur. There are further private hospitals in some of the surrounding municipalities of the Klang River Valley.
If there’s an accident or medical emergency, dial 999 to call the police or an ambulance and 994 to alert the Kuala Lumpur fire brigade. The general emergency number for GSM mobile users, 112, also works in Kuala Lumpur. For over-the-counter medication, just walk into the nearest branch of the major drugstore/pharmacy chains.
Education and Leisure in the Tiger State
Expats with families will be happy to hear that there are a number of international schools in the Kuala Lumpur area. While English is taught as an obligatory foreign language at every Malaysian school, the usual languages in the classroom are Malay and sometimes Mandarin or Tamil. Unless your children are reasonably competent in one of these languages, local schools will be a poor choice for them.
Among the many international schools in Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, several cater explicitly to specific foreign communities settling in the Klang Valley region. There are educational institutions for expatriate kids from Australia, France, Germany, India, Japan, and the UK as well as general private schools where the language of instruction is English.
Kuala Lumpur also offers a lot of opportunities for family outings. When the weather is right, kids will enjoy a visit to the National Zoo or the Kuala Lumpur Lake Gardens, with its Butterfly Park, miniature deer, playground, and boat rental. The Bukit Nanas Forest Nature Reserve has a recreational park with picnic areas, or you can venture outside to fly a wau bulan, one of Malaysia’s beautiful moon-kites.
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