KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — Public-private partnerships with coherent health policies are the key to deliver higher quality health care services, said pharmaceutical, doctors’ and private hospital groups.
The Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA), the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), and the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) said that their collaborative efforts with public health care providers eventually helped in reducing the burden on public health care infrastructure during the coronavirus epidemic.
PhAMA represents multinational pharmaceutical companies, MMA is the country’s largest doctors’ group, while APHM represents private hospitals in Malaysia.
PhAMA vice president Ashish D. Pal noted that some countries can leverage the Covid-19 pandemic in the sense of utilising the critical situation as an opportunity to grow, reflect, learn and establish an enabling investment environment.
He emphasised that an enabling policy environment is the key to institute world class facilities, such as research labs and vaccine manufacturing ability, apart from health care services.
“We play a very critical role in the Malaysian economy,” Ashish said in an online panel discussion titled “Partnering with the government of Malaysia on building a more resilient healthcare sector”.
He stated that policy stability, policy sustainability, transparency, and dialogue with a realisation of common vision are extremely important to form a stronger health care system comprising hospitals, medical professionals, and the pharmaceutical industries to take care of the health of Malaysians.
Ashish also highlighted that any policy changes in health care must only be introduced after a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis that not only focuses on the short-term, but should also include long-term and indirect costs and benefits.
He cited long-term costs of treatments, population quality-adjusted life-year (QALY), job opportunities, losses in revenue, medical tourism, and foreign direct investments.
Earlier, the Malaysian government announced that Covid-19 patients who are able to bear the treatment and medical cost of the disease can also be treated in private health care facilities.
It is to be noted that during this Covid-19 epidemic, RM100 million was allocated by the government for private hospitals to treat patients decanted from the public to the private sector.
However, private health care providers told the government that it was better for private hospitals to provide care for critically ill non-Covid patients from public facilities, rather than to treat new Covid-19 patients.
“The government should not come back to the private sectors to control our operations, our way of managing the hospitals because we are pretty independent. In order for this to sustain and help in the PPP, we should be able to sustain,” APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh said in the online panel discussion.
“We are not saying that we are going for over-profits or manage it to a level that can kill the entire ecosystem. We are willing to help out.”
Dr Kuljit also noted that the private health care facilities, including general practitioners (GPs), built the ecosystem without much support from the government.
“But then there shouldn’t be a control. Sometimes they tend to control the private sector, but they must remember that the private hospitals and private general practitioners are all on our own.”
At the same time, the medical groups also stated that the health care sector is gearing up for a sustained fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The panelists of the online forum also mutually agreed that the pandemic not only strained the health care infrastructure, but also exposed some of the system’s vulnerabilities in areas like human resources, logistics, patient care, and the supply chain.
They said the health care landscape in Malaysia exists in an ecosystem of dependencies with stakeholders, such as local and international suppliers, distributors, GPs, both public and private hospitals, and community pharmacists.
“Public and private partnerships, a multisectoral and collaborative approach, are important in ensuring the country’s health security, sustainability, and resilience,” said PhAMA, MMA and APHM.