Recently there has been a lot of appreciation for frontliners working in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Being a frontliner myself and being in the receiving end of appreciation did feel good indeed.
However, we frontliners have been working to ensure the quality of health for the vast majority of malaysians for decades.
Currently there is another issue that has made a comeback in local media and that is, non-communicable diseases. As mentioned in my previous letter to the editor – general practitioners in Klinik Kesihatan and private medical officers, commonly known as GPs, are an essential service to the people for common ailments and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and others.
I sincerely believe the new government currently is focusing on prevention of serious illness and complications caused by some of the chronic illnesses as mentioned above. The mulling of extending the operation hours is indeed a great idea provided we have the manpower to do it.
Some medical officers in the government Klinik Kesihatan see in excess of 100 patients per day between 8am to 5pm.
It is impossible to extend the working hours of the Klinik Kesihatan so long new posts for medical officers, medical assistants, nurses and pharmacists are not created by the government. There are plenty of contract medical officers waiting for permanent positions; why not employ these doctors to fill up newly created posts for medical officers in Klinik Kesihatan?
I suggest the Ministry of Health study the feasibility of providing treatment and follow-ups for the general public after working hours. Some questions need to be answered namely, will there be adequate load of patients after 5pm like the elderly and pregnant women, is there enough supply of commonly used medication to accommodate the probable increase of patients, will the government be able to foot the operational costs and bills for electricity along with other utilities that will increase as a result of extended working hours?
The final and most important question is, will this effort truly bring about an increase in the quality of care (longer and more thorough consultations) and benefit to the patient versus continuing the current working hours but increasing the number of doctors?
The focus of extending the working hours should not be ONLY about the quantity. To effectively increase the effectiveness of a local clinic such as a Klinik Kesihatan, every conceivable effort should be directed towards improving the quality, and it is NOT about seeing as much as patients with the existing amount of manpower.
Is our government prepared to absorb more doctors, medical assistants, nurses and pharmacists into the service now?
Dr Dhanaventhan A/L Raman is a general practitioner in Ipoh.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.