KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — Health Minister Dr Adham Baba has reassured the Malaysian private health care industry about government plans to mitigate their financial losses from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In interviews with CodeBlue, private hospitals and general practitioner (GP) clinics complained about steep drops in patient numbers during the outbreak by about 70 per cent. Meanwhile, community pharmacies foresaw layoffs as their revenue has been halved during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The private health care sector called for economic stimulus packages from the government to help sustain their business, expecting patient load to remain depressed for months after the partial lockdown is lifted.
Medical practitioners predicted local patients would continue avoiding clinics and hospitals out of fear of contracting the coronavirus, while medical tourists would also likely stay away because of lockdowns in their home countries.
“Plans have been made for them,” Dr Adham told CodeBlue, without elaborating further, when asked if the government would extend financial assistance to private hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.
“It will get better.”
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration recently announced RM1.6 billion in stimulus packages for the Ministry of Health (MOH), but the money was allocated for equipment and services to manage the coronavirus epidemic that has infected over 5,000 people in the country.
Private spending comprises almost half of total health expenditure in the country. The closure of GP clinics or private hospitals could further strain the underfunded public health care system that was already struggling even before the Covid-19 outbreak, as patient visits to government hospitals and clinics have quadrupled in a decade.