KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 – Upgrades to health clinics (klinik kesihatan) and rural clinics (klinik desa) can help reduce overcrowding in government hospitals, according to Sungai Petani MP Dr Taufiq Johari.
The first-term PKR MP said despite the number of health clinics and rural clinics available all over the country, many facilities still lack essential equipment needed to effectively serve the community.
“If we can improve the facilities of health clinics and rural clinics, minor cases, not major accidents, can be managed by these facilities. We need more medical equipment to ease the burden on the emergency departments in large hospitals,” Dr Taufiq said during his debate on the 2024 Budget yesterday.
“This way, people will seek treatment at these clinics, as health clinics are already equipped with essential services such as X-ray, outpatient departments (OPD), maternal and child health (MCH), and laboratories,” he added.
While he commended the government’s Madani Medical Scheme, a programme providing fully subsidised treatment for acute cases in participating private general practitioner (GP) clinics to reduce hospital congestion, Dr Taufiq said that many public hospitals, including Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani, still grapple with overcrowding.
In March, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced plans to extend the operating hours of health clinics as part of a pilot project to ease congestion in hospital emergency departments.
It was first implemented in Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik in Klang, which extended its opening hours until 9.30pm every day, including weekends and public holidays. The pilot project included redirecting patients with mild symptoms or non-emergency cases from Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) to the health clinic.
A month later, in April, the MOH announced an expansion of the extended operating hours pilot project to five additional klinik kesihatan in Gombak, Hulu Langat, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, and Kuala Lumpur.
The decision came in response to a 54 per cent decrease in green zone patient arrivals at HTAR’s Emergency and Trauma Department since Klinik Kesihatan Bandar Botanik extended its operating hours.
Dr Taufiq also highlighted the need for the government to provide clearer information and educate the public about where they can seek treatment for various symptoms and cases.
“Currently, we see many patients going to hospitals with minor ailments – for flu and cough – even though early treatments for these conditions can be obtained at health clinics.
“It is the responsibility of ministries, such as the Communications and Digital Ministry, to inform the public about what can be obtained at hospitals and what can be obtained at health clinics and rural clinics,” Dr Taufiq said.