Its been nearly a year since the Pakatan historic win. The public and many doctors have been waiting patiently for new policies and directions that are going to take Malaysian healthcare to the next level.
As a doctor, I stand in awe at your incredible political will to decrease smoking among the public and reduce its myriads of associated ill health. It takes no less than the greatest of resolve and commitment to the Health of all Malaysians for such a historic move to happen.
However, there is more to do and I urge that we continue to focus on the remaining problems that will seal the deal and permanently bring us to the next level.
Malaysian healthcare is at a crossroad on the verge of spiraling into the abyss or strengthen to be the role model for global communities to emulate.
Beneath the accolades, these are the main problems plaguing how we provide healthcare to Malaysians.
Firstly, we have too many doctors and there are too limited places for training. At the same time, entry requirements into medical schools are varied and unlike before when very stringent criteria applied. Many medical graduates also have to wait for a substantial period of time to get jobs.
This has been common knowledge for years as you are aware and, yet these problems persist. We must have the resolve and political will to aim for quality and not quantity. Medicine is not defined by how many doctors you have, but how experienced and how deep is their knowledge and skills.
Secondly, there is too little focus on primary care. We know that prevention is better than cure and preventive costs are always less than curative costs.
Strengthening primary care doesn’t only involve the trickling production of primary care specialists and the government health clinics. It also involves the wholesale embracing of both public and private primary care, increasing collaboration, cooperation and two-way consultation to achieve a win-win situation.
The top down approach, the over- regulation and at times unnecessary regulation of private general practitioners (GPs) create animosity, distrust and lack of cooperation. These approaches should be relegated to relics of the past so that all of primary care, both private and government can work hand in hand for the betterment of all.
There need to be genuine spirit of consultation and support rather than cursory efforts and lip service.
And thirdly, excessive government-linked companies ( GLCs) involvement in private healthcare. The government’s role is critical in ensuring appropriate regulations, directions and framework but should have no business in profit making.
The participation and near monopoly of GLCs in private healthcare creates conflict of interest and increase costs due to the limited free and fair competitions among private health care providers. If anything, GLCs’ participation in private healthcare should be on a non-profit basis.
I write this with genuine aspiration and hope that all of us can put our differences and preconceived notions aside to work for the betterment of all Malaysians regardless of affiliation, race, creed or religion.
This is my humble appeal to the Pakatan Harapan Government.
A government of hope by the people for the people.
Dr. John Teo is a medical practitioner based in Sabah
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.