Private GPs Confused By Vague, Impractical Covid-19 Guidelines: MMA

By Boo Su-Lyn | 17 July 2020

The Malaysian Medical Association also wants the Pathology Laboratory Act to be enforced.

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has called for the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Private Medical Practice Control Section (CKAPS) to address all private health care issues beyond regulatory matters.

MMA honorary general secretary Dr R. Arasu said general practitioners (GPs) have received various circulars pertaining to private health facilities from various MOH departments apart from CKAPS amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“We are aware that the departments under the MOH have its own jurisdiction, however, this decentralisation in terms of dissemination of information during a crisis has created unnecessary inconveniences and confusion in the private sector, specifically among the general practitioners.

“Guidelines issued were not discussed with the general practitioners and hence, were vague and not practical to be implemented in a general practice setting,” Dr Arasu wrote in a June 26 letter to Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, as sighted by CodeBlue.

MMA also alleged poor coordination in Covid-19 screening, noting that the screening booth at the clinic and onsite booth are under CKAPS, but the certification of sampling is under MOH’s Family Health Development Division (BPPK).

The doctors’ group complained about the lack of guidelines on Covid-19 infection prevention control when conducting antibody rapid tests for people under home quarantine.

“The interpretation of the quarantine criteria by various PKDs (district health offices) has forced many GPs and their staffs to be quarantined. While we understand the need for quarantine for close contacts, the interpretation has been subjective,” Dr Arasu said.

“While all these divisions can produce their standard operating procedures, it would have increased efficiency and productivity if it was coordinated by one division like CKAPs which has the database of the private sector.

“In a time of crisis, credible source and dissemination of information is of vital importance. General practitioners, who are an important part of our country’s health care system, should be treated as partners when guidelines are being formulated for them in the future,” he added.

Dr Arasu highlighted many aspects of health care involving the private sector that are not covered under CKAPS’ jurisdiction, such as the Pathology Laboratory Act 2007 that he said has not been enforced, leading to the unregulated operation of private laboratories, “a real problem” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Besides upgrading CKAPS into a division to address matters pertaining to private health care beyond regulatory issues, MMA urged MOH to set up a task force to look into amending the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 to regulate those providing health care services, be it physical or virtual “facilities”.

Dr Arasu further expressed disappointment with MOH for not releasing further information to medical associations, including MMA, about the 45 GPs who were infected with Covid-19, as reported last April 22.

He urged MOH to give equal importance and priority to private medical practitioners in the delivery of health care services, noting that almost 90 per cent of the 7,000 GP clinics nationwide are run by individual owners, unlike private hospitals that are run by corporations, including government-linked companies.

“The GPs were demoralised and felt they were totally neglected during the crisis, even though in reality they were playing equally an important role as frontline in fighting Covid-19.”

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