Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MMA probes complaints on foreign student check-ups

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has acknowledged receiving grouses from member doctors over Qualitas Medical Group Sdn Bhd’s role in facilitating Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) to provide healthcare for foreign students in the country.
“We received several complaints, both verbally and in writing, from doctors who were rejected (from being part of the panel clinic) and regarding the low payment by Qualitas,” said MMA president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan. 
“The MMA ethics committee is investigating a complaint from a senior member on alleged unethical practice by the parties involved.
“If the allegations are true, we will refer it to the Malaysian Medical Council, Health Ministry and Education Ministry for further action.”
He said the MMA may refer the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Malaysian Competition Commission if the matter remained unresolved.
Tharmaseelan was responding to The Malay Mail’s article Doctors unhappy with medical group published yesterday. Several doctors were upset their applications to Qualitas to screen foreign students, despite having done so prior EMGS, were rejected by Qualitas.
Those in the panel asked why they were only paid RM65 (RM25 for X-ray and RM40 for drawing blood) when EMGS collects RM250 from each student for medical check-ups. 
From that amount, RM200 goes to Qualitas while EMGS retains the balance of RM50. 
Tharmaseelan said MMA met EMGS after The Malay Mail’s expose on visa delays, alleged monopoly of clinics and insurance company in June. MMA insisted clinics near higher learning institutions should be part of the panel. 
“Many doctors complained they have been bypassed. We also raised this matter with the health minister (Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam) who has directed his officers to raise the matter with the education ministry. We await for developments on the matter,” he said.
The MMA had also met representatives from the education ministry as EMGS was the brainchild of the then higher learning education ministry which has, after the 13th general election, been incorporated as part of the education ministry.
“Why the education ministry, and not the health ministry, has been given jurisdiction is another perplexing question. With the Fomema experience of conducting health checks on foreign workers, the health ministry should have been the authority to oversee this project,” he said.
“Ministries under the same government competing against each other to run a project is difficult to comprehend.”
Tharmaseelan advised doctors against being part of the panel if they were unhappy with the payment scheme.
“We urge EMGS to dispel this growing dissatisfaction by appointing more non-Qualitas clinics. The payment should be increased as students examined pay more than foreign workers (under Fomema scheme),” he said. 
“The administration fees should be covered by the RM1,000 processing fee (charged to foreign students by EMGS) and not from the RM250 student pays for the medical check-up.”
Tharmaseelan said MMA was working closely with GP groups including the Malaysian Primary Care Network to resolve this issue.

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