Monday, April 30, 2012

Two million Malaysians unaware they are diabetic

The Star BUTTERWORTH: More than two million Malaysians are unaware that they are diabetic, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.

This is because they have not had regular medical check-ups.

“A study has revealed that more than two million people who have high glucose levels in their blood are unaware that they have a problem.

“What is shocking is that these people have not gone for their regular medical check-ups to know of their latest health status,” she said at the opening of the Diabetes Awareness Campaign at SK Kuala Perai in Bagan Dalam near here yesterday.

She said diabetes was a “silent disease” and patients would usually only come to know of their condition seven to 10 years later.

The event was jointly organised by the Diabetes Council of Malaysia and drinking water manufacturer ECPI.

More than 30 senior citizens in Bagan Dalam received spectacles while students with excellent results in the UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations received cash rewards and bicycles at the function.

Rosnah said that in 2006, 1.5 million people were diagnosed as diabetic but in 2011, the figure had increased to three million people.

“The number will continue to rise if the people fail to change their eating habits and lifestyles,” she added.

She advised Malaysians to reduce their sugar consumption and to exercise regularly to stay healthy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Liow: 1:600 doctor/patient ratio by 2015

Star KLUANG: Malaysia is expected to achieve the 1:600 doctor patient ratio as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) by 2015, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said at present the ratio was at 1:800.

"We expect that with the 3,500 doctors that we are producing annually, the 1:600 ratio can be attained by 2015 and 1:400 by 2020, which will exceed what WHO wants," he told reporters after making visiting the new Kluang Hospital here.

According to Liow, although 3,500 doctors were being produced annually, there were still hospitals in the country like the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru that were facing a shortage of doctors and other support staff.

He said staffing needs of hospitals differed, depending on their location in densely or less densely populated areas.

He added that his ministry had approved 25 additional doctors for the Kluang Hospital bringing the total number of doctors at it to 45 and would also be holding discussions with the Public Service Department to allocate more support staff for the hospital.

He was accompanied by Kluang MP Dr Hou Kok Chung during the visit. - Bernama

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MMC, ministry misleading public?

FMT PETALING JAYA: An irate parent of a medical student has lashed out at the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and Deputy Health Minister Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin for allegedly misleading the public over discrepancies in enrolling Malaysian medical students in Ukranian universities.
The parent, who did not want to be identified, told FMT that while MMC and Rosnah insisted that the medical degree offered by the Lincoln University College (LUC) was a “stand alone” programme and not connected to universities in Ukraine, new evidence had surfaced that LUC inked an agreement of cooperation with the Ternopil State Medical University (TMSU), which was derecognised by the government.
TSMU’s official website showed an agreement of cooperation between the university and LUC signed on Dec 16, 2010 and according to the agreement, LUC would admit Malaysian students and send them for further education to Ternopil.
Upon graduation, students would be awarded dual degrees both from TSMU and LUC.
This, the parent claimed, was “clearly in contradiction” with the stand of Rosnah and MMC head Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, who said that LUC’s offshore programme was a “stand alone” course, whereby LUC only used the universities’ facilities while the course was based on its own syllabus.
“This raises a question… why are Malaysian students awarded degrees by the Ukrainian university when it is a ‘stand alone’ programme?” the parent asked.
LUC is the first and only college to obtain the green light from the MMC to run such a “stand alone” programme.
Coincidence or something fishy?
TSMU is one of the three universities in Ukraine identified by the LUC to run the offshore medical programme.
The other two universities are Danylo Halytsky Lviv Nasional Medical University and Ivano Frankivsk Nasional Medical University.
The TSMU website also revealed that the cooperation agreement was signed by LUC’s directors Dr Amiya Bhaumik and Dr Abdul Ghani six days after the Malaysian government imposed a moratorium on medical programmes in Ukraine.
“Is this a coincidence or something fishy happened in MMC on that day?” asked the parent.
The MMC had been under scrutiny over the last two months since news broke out that LUC had approved three unrecognised universities in Ukraine to run its offshore medical programme.
A group of students had accused MMC of giving a free hand to LUC to rake in millions of ringgit through the offshore medical course.
They claimed that the actual cost of completing a medical degree in Ukraine was between RM120,000 and RM130,000. But with LUC acting as the intermediary, the price had escalated to about RM200,000.
They had also accused LUC of acting as an agent for the universities. This charge had been vehemently denied by the MMC and the Health Ministry, saying that LUC was conducting a stand alone medical programme.
The students also sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, asking the government to recognise medical universities in Ukraine so that students could enrol in the universities directly.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Najib Opens 1Malaysia Low Risk Maternity Centre

Bernama PUTRAJAYA, April 19 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today opened the 1Malaysia Low Risk Maternity Centre offering first class service with fees as low as RM3.

He said with such low payment, the people could enjoy service on par with first class ward facilities and help reduce their burden.

"Mothers are charged only RM3 for delivery including for treatment, room, medicine and food. This rate is probably the world's best.

"The facilities are of very good quality, with clean and comfortable rooms and for civil servants no fees are charged. I hope many more such centres are established," he told reporters after opening the maternity centre here Thursday.

It is another good healthcare service provided by the government in the interest of the people and to provide proper treatment with minimal fee.

In his speech earlier, Najib hopes that the centre equipped with phototherapy treatment facilities and clinics for antenatal and gynaecology services will provide give the best service.

The centre will also have obstetricians, gynaecologists and paediatricians daily to ensure that patients receive quality, professional and effective treatment.

"It will provide comfort and a conducive environment to mothers as husbands are allowed to accompany spouses in accordance with the concept of "husband-friendly hospital," he added.

The maternity centre which started operation on Jan 30 in Precinct 8 only caters to low risk maternity cases and not limited to residents of Putrajaya.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New points system for doctors

MI KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — Doctors will have to keep abreast with the latest medical developments before they can be allowed to renew their annual practising licences under a new Health Ministry points system.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said under the system, doctors must attend lectures, courses and seminars to collect points set by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).

“It is self improvement via continuous profession development. The new rule is one of amendments to the Medical Act 1971 tabled for first reading in Parliament recently,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama in Subang Jaya today.

He also said the ministry would bar doctors who failed to renew their medical licences with the MMC for six consecutive years.

“They will be barred from practising and are required to sit for a special eligibility test if they want to continue in the profession,” he was quoted as saying.

The country has about 35,000 trained doctors and 5,000 medical specialists.

He said another amendment to the Act was incorporating MMC to give it more authority and functions.

“Incorporation will make MMC an autonomous body that can act faster,” he was quoted as saying.

Medical Bill tabled

The Star A BILL, which aims to strengthen the Malaysian Medical Council and enhance the regulation of the medical profession, has been tabled.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin tabled the Medical (Amendment) Bill 2012 for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The proposed amendment introduces the establishment of a Medical Qualifying Committee to look into the accreditation of qualifications of both local and international training institutions.

It also seeks to establish the council as a corporate body, comprising a director-general, who acts as president and nine fully registered medical practitioners from recognised local universities and university colleges.

The functions of the council include registering medical practitioners and regulating the practice of medicine, entering into contracts to acquire or lease property.

It will allow for new requirements to be stipulated by the council as well as insurance indemnity as a pre-requisite to renew the annual practising certificate.

The amendments also require a practitioner to notify the change of his address of residence and failure to do so would also be deemed an offence.

It also seeks to provide immunity to any healthcare facility and services managed by the Government from any liability of injury, loss or damage of a civil nature.

Move to register specialist doctors with MMC

The Star  SUBANG: It will soon be complusory for some 5,000 specialist doctors to register with the Malaysian Medical Council under amendments to the Medical Act 1971, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.He said the amendments would be tabled and passed in the next sitting of Parliament.He said the registry would allow patients to identify the specialists according to their respective fields and expertise.He added that the registry, to be made accessible via the internet, would also allow the authorities to monitor foreign doctors practising in Malaysia.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Same promise, same hospital

Free Malaysia Today KUCHING: The much-hyped announcement that the Petra Jaya parliamentary constituency will be getting a hospital in three years’ time has fallen flat with the 100,000 voters in the constituency simply because they heard the same pledge five years ago, said local opposition PKR.
“Nevetherless, it is good to hear news of the proposed construction… better now than never,” Sarawak PKR women chief Nurhanim Mokhsen said.
Nurhanim, who was responding to reports that Petra Jaya would have a hospital in three years’ time, was however “puzzled” by the fact that the Barisan Nasional government was calling for tenders when it had already appointed a contractor.
“We are puzzled by the announcement on the need to go through another round of tedious tendering process.
“According to our records, Bursa Malaysia said that Zecon Bhd had received the letter of intent on June 3, 2011 to build the hospital by way of direct negotiations on a ‘design and build basis’.
“Our concern is why the need for the BN government to re-tender as we fear that further delays will creep in.
“Also, it is very disappointing that the proposed hospital is to cater for only 300 beds,” she said, adding that the 300 beds were “ridiculously low” for the high density population area.
Nurhanim feared that overcrowding will occur just like the Sarawak General Hospital.
“If the BN government is responsible, it should look into this more seriously and speed up the project as it is needed by the masses, ” she said.
‘Calling for tender’
She also warned the BN government “not to play” with the sentiment of Petra Jaya populace by promising to build the hospital before every election.
The government had pledged to build the hospital five years ago.
“We urge the finance and health ministries to have the foresight to build the hospital. We propose that the hospital should have at least 500 beds.
“Extra funds should be forthcoming so that the population in Petra Jaya can enjoy better facilities while waiting or accompanying their love ones,” Nurhanim said.
Meanwhile, Sarawak’s deputy director of health services, Dr Chin Zin Hing, said that the long delayed Petra Jaya hospital is in its design stage and will be up for tender once the design has been finalised.
“We are waiting for the hospital design and have already appointed a consultant on the matter.
“The hospital, which is expected to be completed within three years, will be developed on a 40-acre site next to the Sarawak health department in Petra Jaya.
“The hospital can accommodate 300 beds with all the basic specialists’ services to cater to patients in Petra Jaya,” Chin said.

Bill to strengthen Malaysian Medical Council tabled in Parliament

The Star KUALA LUMPUR: A Bill, which aims to strengthen the Malaysian Medical Council and enhance the regulation of the medical profession, was tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin tabled the Medical (Amendment) Bill 2012.

The proposed amendment introduces the establishment of a Medical Qualifying Committee to look into the accreditation of qualifications of both local and international training institutions.

The Bill also seeks to establish the council as a corporate body.

The council may enter into contracts and acquire or lease property, as it deems fit.

Health Ministry to check safety of fake banana leaves

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will look into claims that the “fake banana leaves” used by some Indian restaurants are harmful to health.

“We will verify what these fake leaves are made of,” said its director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman when contacted yesterday.

He was responding to claims by the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) that the “leaves” had been dyed green and may also contain harmful leftover ink.

In a press conference yesterday, CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the “fake banana leaves” used by restaurants could be harmful to health as they were made of recycled newspapers.

He said the additives used could emit chemicals when hot food is placed on the leaves.

“I urge the authorities to take action under the Trade Description Act against restaurant operators who serve meals on these fake banana leaves,” he said.

“Research has shown that the surface of the banana leaf also has antibacterial properties.

“It is biodegradable unlike the paper leaves which are not environmentally friendly,” said Mohamed Idris

He claimed restaurant operators were trying to cut costs as the paper banana leaves only cost RM5.50 per stack of 100 compared to the real leaves which cost up to 30sen each.

Meanwhile, an operator of a popular Indian banana leaf restaurant here said the paper leaves had been certified by Sirim.

“We sent the sample for testing earlier this year and were told that it complied with the requirements of the Malaysian Food Act,” said Kanna Curry House restaurant manager Muthu Kumar.

The restaurant said the change was for the sake of hygiene and due to the shortage of banana leaves in the country.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Varsity lecturers to help out at 22 hospitals

Star: TAPAH: The Health Ministry has identified 22 public and private universities which will provide specialist medical services in 22 district hospitals nationwide.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the universities were among 33 public and private universities in the country that offer medical courses.

He described it as a smart partnership as the hospitals would provide all the necessary facilities while the universities would send their lecturers who are also medical experts with various specialisations.

He said the collaboration would result in more patients receiving specialist treatment with a shorter waiting period.

“It is a win-win solution for the ministry, universities and the public,” he said after witnessing the signing of the smart partnership between the ministry and nine universities at the Tapah Hospital yesterday.

The ministry was represented by its secretary-general Datuk Kamarul Zaman Md Isa while the nine universities were represented by their vice-chancellors or top officials.

The nine universities that inked the partnership agreement were Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman that would provide specialist medical service at the Tapah Hospital, Management and Science University (Kuala Kubu Baru Hospital), Perdana University (Bentong Hospital), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Serian Hospital), UCSI University (Dungun Hospital), Lincoln University College (Lahad Datu Hospital), Allianze University College of Medical Sciences (Kepala Batas Hospital), Melaka Manipal Medical College (Jasin Hospital) and Mahsa University College (Tanjung Karang Hospital).

Liow said the signing ceremony with the remaining 13 universities would be held later.

“The partnership will help ease congestion at main hospitals and increase the bed occupancy rate at district hospitals,” he said, adding that priority areas include internal medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopedic and anaesthesiology.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Khazanah plans US$1.5 bln healthcare IPO | Free Malaysia Today

Free Malaysia Today KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd is expected to list its healthcare assets in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in the second half, a deal that could fetch $1.5 billion, two sources with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters.
The dual listing could be the fourth-biggest initial public offering in the city state’s history and Malaysia’s second-largest this year after the planned listing of Malaysian plantation group Felda Global Venture Holdings.
“It is coming out in the second half,” a source with knowledge of the deal told Reuters on Monday. “Some preliminary discussions are being held with cornerstones and Khazanah’s representatives.”
The IPO will be one of the first after elections in Malaysia that are widely expected to be held in June. Analysts and investment bankers have said Malaysia’s IPO pipeline has slowed ahead of the poll because of concerns of market volatility.
A second source said the listing was set for June or July, with pre-marketing to start in May.
Khazanah officials were not immediately available for comment.
Acquisition trial
The first source, who declined to be identified as the details of the listing have not yet been made public, said Khazanah was still making acquisitions “to bulk up the initial public offering (IPO)”.
Khazanah’s healthcare assets are currently parked under Integrated Healthcare Holdings (IHH), in which Japan’s Mitsui & Co Ltd owns a 30 percent stake.
Aside from IHH’s recent purchase of Turkish hospital group Acibadem AS, the unit to be listed would have assets of Singapore’s Parkway Holdings, Malaysia-based Pantai Hospitals and International Medical University.
Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank AG and CIMB are joint global coordinators and book runners for the deal. Goldman Sachs, DBS and Credit Suisse are joint bookrunners, a source told Reuters in December.

Ministry to discuss high cost of private hospital treatment for policy holders

Sinchew KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry will hold a meeting with the relevant authorities to discuss the escalating cost of medical treatment at private hospitals.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the meeting to be held between the ministry, Managed-care Organisation (MCO) and private hospitals would look into ways to overcome the problem of high charges for insurance policy holders at private hospitals compared with cash payment.

"The meeting is to discuss the problem of private hospitals imposing high charges for insurance policy referrals when compared with cash payment. There cannot be two variations in payment for treatment.

"If this trend continues, patients will not be able to receive the optimum benefit from their insurance policies," he told reporters after attending a Private Hospital Visitors Board meeting here today.

Liow said since the government has a fixed rate for professional treatment offered by doctors or specialists, nobody can hike the charges to their whims and fancies.

He said every private hospital must set up a grievance mechanism to handle complaints from patients who are unhappy with charges for treatment.

Among the mechanism is to display charges for medical treatment in the website of the respective hospitals, or explain the charges for treatment so that patients would be able to understand before making a decision.

Liow said the Ministry would also make amendments to the regulation of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 to enable hospitals and private clinics to operate without too much restriction.

"Our enforcement officers (Ministry) are very strict when inspecting we have relaxed the restriction and will inform them of the changes because it does not involve the ethics of doctors," he said.

Meanwhile, Liow said the Private Hospital Visitors Board members selected by the ministry play an important role as facilitators to provide correct information on the services provided by a hospital, to the members of the public.

"They can become an important channel to accept complaints or suggestions from the public to improve the quality of service in their respective hospitals," he said.

Each hospital with a capacity of between 50 to 300 beds will have 10 to 25 board members.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Second healthcare forum in Johor Baru on April 28

AsiaOne By Lim Wey Wen The Star/Asia News Network Sunday, Apr 15, 2012

PETALING JAYA - The second healthcare transformation forum, planned by the Health Ministry to collect public feedback with a view to reform, will be held in Johor Baru.

The forum is part of a series of roadshows held nationwide.

In an announcement posted on its website, the ministry invited the public to take part in the "Making Healthcare Equitable and Accessible for All" forum at Johor Allied Health Sciences College in Johor Baru on April 28.

The forum will be at 2pm-5pm. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register with the ministry at

The first forum was at the Institute for Health Management in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, on March 31.

More than 100 healthcare professionals and the public, including top ministry officials, have attended the roadshow. There was criticism that the public was given too short a notice as the forum was only announced less than a week before the event.

The forum, moderated by Universiti Sains Malaysia pro-chancellor Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan, featured three panellists International Movement for a Just World president Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Primary Care Doctors' Organisation Malaysia representative Dr Mahendran Markandoo and Health deputy director-general (medical) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had said the ideas and opinions expressed during the roadshows would be compiled for the ministry's consideration, while discussions with technical working groups on the country's healthcare reform would continue.

He had also said the ministry would look into better ways to inform the public about upcoming forums, including posting details on the ministry's website.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Housemen still being overworked and bullied, sending some into depression

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will conduct checks on the shift system for housemen in hospitals in the wake of reports that trainee doctors are still being overworked, bullied by seniors as well as suffering from depression.

Under the Graduate Medical Officer Flexi Timetable system, introduced last September, housemen can only work up to 60 hours a week with two days off. But implementation has been reportedly poor at some hospitals.

Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the ministry would seek explanations from hospitals found overworking their housemen, adding that the ministry was willing to help them implement the system effectively if they were facing a shortage of housemen.

However, he said he had checked timetables in Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Ampang Hospital, Serdang Hospital, Klang Hospital, Selayang Hospital and Sungai Buloh Hospital but had not seen any houseman made to work for more than five days a week or to do double shifts.

Earlier, Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Mary Cardosa urged the ministry to review the shift system and conduct a study on the mental health of junior doctors.

On the death of Dr Lee Chang Tat, 29, who was found dead in a restroom of the paediatrics ward at Kajang Hospital with a used syringe beside him, she said there was no data to show the number of housemen who suffered from depression due to their long working hours and stress.

“There should be some kind of mechanism to assist troubled doctors, whether they have personal or work-related problems or can't handle the stress.”

The Malaysian Medical Council, meanwhile, reviews an average of five cases of doctors with mental health issues each month. It is learnt that there were 20 cases last October.

“Most of them are housemen, but we have also heard cases on medical officers,” said former Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican.

“The types of issues range from psychiatric problems to anxiety and coping problems,” Dr Ismail said.

Dr Ismail, who is also former MMC chairman, said the working hours for housemen may not be as demanding as before the shift system was implemented, but they were exposed to other sources of stress in their work including demands from patients, their superiors and other colleagues,” he added.

System that’s a burden to many housemen

Star: PETALING JAYA: A 27-year-old houseman lamented that although the shift system was good, it was poorly implemented at his hospital.

He claimed that it was up to each department to implement the system.

The houseman alleged that when he first joined the hospital, he had to work 92 hours a week and on 24-hour shifts for up to one and a half months.

But things improved after someone brought up the issue to the management.

However, for departments that lacked housemen, they had to work long hours and without on-call allowance.

This was because allowances were not provided for in the shift system and housemen were not expected to work more than 72 hours a week, he added.

The houseman said they were paid a fixed RM600 a month but without the RM100 to RM200 allowance for each on-call duty.

He also claimed that eight housemen suffered depression and were under psychiatric observation as they could not take the bullying from senior doctors, whom he said constantly shouted and belittled them.

They were also burdened with a training duration that was extended from four to six or seven months for each department.

“One houseman went into depression after he failed his assessment twice,” he said, adding that some housemen got themselves transferred to another hospital or just resigned.

Another houseman Dr G.M. Pillai, 28, said Ipoh Hospital was trying its best to adhere to the rules set by the Health Ministry.

“We work 60 to 65 hours a week and sometimes up to 70 hours. But if we have to work up to 70 hours, we are given less hours the following week,” he said.

Before the shift system was introduced, he had worked up to 36 hours.

But, after it was implemented, the hours were capped at a maximum of 20 and they get a whole day off the next day, he said.

Implementation of Pathology Lab Bill long overdue

The Star THE Pathology Laboratory Bill was passed in Parliament in August 2007 and was to be effective only after the regulations had been finalised.

It is already four-and-a-half years since the Laboratory Act 2007 was passed, but there is still no news on the date of commencement.

I am aware that there had been a few meetings on the preparation of the regulations but progress is at snail pace.

Without this Act, any person can operate a private medical laboratory. The Pathology Laboratory Bill 2007, which has 13 parts and 87 sections, clearly stipulates only a registered medical practitioner or a pathologist registered as such under the Medical Act 1971 will be given a licence to operate a lab.

This act covers all aspects of safety, proper record keeping, qualified laboratory technicians, good quality control, etc.

Regular inspection of these labs will be done by staff of the Health Ministry.

The Health Minister may make regulations prescribing a fees schedule for the labs.

This Act restricts what medical lab tests a registered medical or dental practitioner can do. The Department of Standards Malaysia, Science and Technology Ministry, has a high powered committee to oversee this.

Once the Lab Act is implemented, walk-ins to any lab are allowed to do only three tests without a doctor’s signature on the lab form. They are blood glucose estimation, urine test for glucose and urine pregnancy test. Currently, a person can do any lab tests he wants.

The Traditional Complementary Medicine Act was passed by Parliament in 2009 and its regulations have been under preparation for the last three years. No one knows how long the Ministry will take to make it effective to prevent quacks from practising as medical practitioners.

Ten years ago, we were informed that there would be a revision of the Medical Act 1971.

Several meetings were held between the Health Ministry and related organisations, but again I am in the dark when the revisions would be passed by Parliament.

This Act, as I understand, will make it compulsory for all medical specialists to be registered, and also stipulates what general practitioners can and cannot do.

Currently, the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) is composed of elected and appointed representatives and the Director-General of Health is the president.

The appointed doctors are mainly from the five long-standing medical universities in this country, but this has to change as we now have 11 government and 19 medical colleges, and most of these private colleges have university status.

In Indonesia and Brunei, the main medical association has two representatives in their medical councils.

I hope the MMA will have a permanent representative in the MMC.

Past President of MMA.

Hospital supplies: Did MCA engineer ‘limited tender’ exercise? | Free Malaysia Today

Free Malaysia Today KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been urged to investigate six medical equipment suppliers appointed by the Health Ministry for links to Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties.
Sabah DAP secretary Dr Edwin Bosi claimed the party had evidence that government funds for procurement of medical equipment for state hospitals were channelled to these suppliers, via a “limited tender” exercise, engineered by MCA.
“We would like to know the basis for appointing the six companies. We ask if this is not against the standard Treasury instruction for the procurement of equipment, ” Bosi said.
Local medical suppliers claim that in August last year, the ministry approved about RM18 million for procurement of equipment for Queen Elizabeth II.
The equipment approved ranged from hand brush costing RM20 and artery forceps costing RM25 to monitors costing RM900. The procurement comes under three categories – direct purchase for items below RM50,000, quotation for those below RM500,000 and a tender for items above RM500,000.
Hospital authorities called for quotations in early August from local suppliers for items below RM50,000, which were submitted to the State Health Department. The authorities also prepared specifications for quotations and tender at the same time.
However, Bosi claimed that the ministry did not release the funds and the Sabah Health Department was not informed when the fund would be made available.
In early 2012, the department was informed by the ministry that six companies had been appointed to participate in a “limited tender” exercise in the procurement of the equipment.

Only one Sabah supplier
Five out of the six companies are from Peninsular Malaysia and the only one is from Sabah.
Bosi said the ministry must explain the rationale for the “limited tender” procedure and the exclusion of the local medical equipment suppliers from this exercise.
“We would like to know if the limited tender exercise will lead to cheaper prices, greater efficiency and better delivery, thus benefitting the end-users. Sabah DAP wants to know who are benefiting from this limited tender.
“This is a serious matter because funds are not forthcoming while procurement procedure is changed at the expense of the people who are in dire need of treatment and medical services in QEH.
“We urge the relevant authorities such as the MACC to investigate this matter urgently,” he said.
“Sabah DAP wants to know why medical equipment suppliers registered in Sabah are left out in this process,” he added.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Liow: Medical council not biased

Free Malaysia Today KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai denied that the Malaysia Medical Council (MMC) was practising double standard in sending local medical students to overseas.
“That’s not true. MMC is a professional body and we cannot have this problem,” said Liow when met at the Parliament today.
Last month, a former medical student from Ukraine alleged that students doing medical courses in Baltic countries were compelled to do a foundation course while those going to Egypt and Jordan were exempted.
“If a student plans to do a medical programme in Ukraine for example, he has to score at least five Bs in SPM each in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics or Additional Mathematics and another optional subject.”
“A student would be required to sit for a foundation course or other pre-university examinations like STPM, Matriculation and A Levels. This is set by MMC,” said the student.
But those going to universities in Jordan and Egypt, the student alleged, were seemed to be given a “special privilege” as they are not required to undergo the foundation course.
Liow promised to probe the matter. “I’ll double check on the matter and we will be transparent,” said Liow.

KPJ to embark on expansion campaign, market capitalisation

BorneoPost Online KUCHING: KPJ Healthcare Bhd (KPJ), Malaysia’s largest private healthcare provider, is moving towards an aggressive expansion campaign by increasing its bed capacity and capitalising on the booming health tourism market.
According to AmResearch Sdn Bhd (AmResearch) in a research reprot, the increase in bed capacity via a pipeline of seven new hospitals would accelerate earnings momentum to achieve the firm’s conservative three year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17 per cent.
The group’s current occupancy rate of 70 to 75 per cent was a tad below overcrowded thresholds of 85 per cent to 90 per cent, noted AmResearch.
Part of KPJ’s hospital expansion plan would see three additional hospitals strategically located within the state neighbouring Singapore.
All in all, it was expected to more than double KPJ’s total capacities to a total of 935 beds upon completion. This would help boost the group’s revenue contribution from health tourism from circa 10 per cent currently to 25 per cent by 2020.
AmResearch also added that with a sizeable 22 per cent market share, the company was well placed to capitalise on the booming and lucrative health tourism, with the doubling of the strategic existing hospital chain in Johor, a focal area slated to become the primary destination for medical tourists.
The increased demand as spurred by recent regulatory changes on cross border medical reimbursement between Malaysia and Singapore was expected to power the segment’s contribution from 10 per cent currently to 25 per cent of group revenue as forecasted by AmResearch.
Given that KPJ also operates KPJ International University College of Nursing and Health Sciences (KPJUIC) with an annual revenue between RM40 million to RM50 million, the education arm complemented its hospital operations, serving to mitigate staffing risks of qualified nurses and medical staff.
The company had earmarked RM120 million capital expenditure for the Nilai branch expansion and commissioning of a new campus at Bukit Mertajam. It aimed to quadruple student intakes to 10,000 in five years’ time.
The firm pegged a discounted cash flow fair value of RM6.15 per share with expected potential returns of 20 per cent.
The company’s fully diluted price earnings ratio of 17 times and 20 times were 10 per cent and 13 per cent discount to its closest peer Thailand based Bumrungrad Hospital, and a wider 23 per cent 33 per cent discount to regional peers’ average.

RAM: KPJ profit may be affected if 1Care fees standardised

The Star PETALING JAYA: KPJ Healthcare Bhd’s profitability may be affected if the proposed new healthcare system (1Care) for Malaysians imposes a standardised fee schedule, said RAM Ratings.

At present, the healthcare industry and KPJ are subject to regulatory controls, although this may evolve over time. The Health Ministry is looking to implement 1Care for Malaysians, which RAM Ratings said could change the landscape of the industry. At this point, details of the scheme have yet to be finalised.

KPJ is an investment-holding company with subsidiaries involved in the operation of hospitals and the provision of healthcare services.

“Following the implementation of 1Care, public and private hospitals may be integrated under a common network.

“Should a standardised fee schedule be imposed, KPJ’s profitability may be affected if operating costs are not effectively managed. As such, the impact of such a restructuring, including its effect on KPJ’s competitive position, can only be assessed upon more clarity of the said scheme,” said RAM Ratings head of consumer and industrial ratings Kevin Lam.

Lam also noted that KPJ remained exposed to persistent cost increases such as higher staff salaries and more expensive medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.

Overall, RAM Ratings does not expect these cost increases to exert overwhelming pressure on the group’s financial profile at this juncture, as the lack of a standardised fee schedule for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies charged by private hospitals allows for some pricing flexibility.

Meanwhile, RAM Ratings maintains a cautious view on the potential impact that a further debt-funded expansion could have on KPJ Healthcare Bhd’s balance sheet and debt-protection measures.

RAM Ratings was making reference to Point Zone Sdn Bhd, a special purpose vehicle set up as a wholly-owned subsidiary of KPJ to undertake the issuance of the Islamic commercial papers/medium term notes (ICP/IMTN) programme for KPJ.

RAM Ratings recently reaffirmed Point Zone’s RM500mil ICP/IMPTN (2011/2018) as AA3(s) and P1(s) for its long and short term ratings respectively.

The long term rating was given a stable outlook.

While RAM Ratings noted KPJ’s position as Malaysia’s leading private healthcare provider with steady operations and cashflow, strong liquidity and financial flexibility, it said KPJ’s aggressive expansion had resulted in a highly leveraged financial profile.

“The group’s lease-adjusted gearing ratio, although improved, was still relatively high at 1.26 times as at end-December 2011 compared to 1.4 times in the previous year,” said RAM Ratings’ head of consumer and industrial ratings Kevin Lam.

He added that KPJ’s adjusted gearing ratio is expected to peak at about 1.5 times over the next 3 years following the expansion of its hospital network.

Lam expects its adjusted funds from operations debt cover (FFODC) to remain at around 0.2 to 0.25 times.

For KPJ’s financial year ended Dec 31, 2011, the group’s revenue rose 14.3% to RM1.89 billion, while operating profit rose 20.1% to RM229.32mil

The group’s adjusted FFODC strengthened to 0.23 times as at end December 2011 from 0.9 times in the previous year.

Monday, April 09, 2012

RM1.7b spent on generic drugs last year | theSundaily

theSundaily KUALA LUMPUR (April 7, 2012): Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said a total of RM1.7 billion was spent by the government last year in purchasing generic drugs, mostly to cater for the increasing number of non-communicable diseases (NCD) patients nationwide.

He said the government expected the expenditure would increase every year.

"Why the sudden increase... because of NCDs, because of high cholesterol, hypertension and so on. Patients have to take Levithol and all kinds of medicine. Everyday you have to take the medicine and it is very costly," he told reporters after launching The Star's Health Fair 2012 here today.

Liow explained that most of the generic drugs were supplied by local manufacturers but some were imported.

"It's more cheaper (to use generic drugs), in fact this is the trend in the world now, most hospitals in the world are using generic drugs...efficiency of the drugs is the same and we can help more people. In Malaysia, in terms of percentage of generic drugs used, it is about 50%, "he said.

Thus in efforts to reduced the number of NCD patients Liow said the government was planning to organise 80 health carnivals at the community level nationwide by the end of this year to create awareness among the people to go for regular health screening every year.

He also recommended that Malaysians over the age of 30 instead of 40 undergo regular screening for NCD risk factors every year, due to many cases of NCD being detected in the early stages.

"This is important because NCDs do not kill you quickly. It is a silent group of diseases, slowly killing you with heart disease, kidney disease and much more," he said, adding that one in seven Malaysians were diagnosed with diabetes.

Other than that, Liow said the government was also making efforts to train community and Neighbourhood Watch leaders to represent the ministry in conducting health screening at grassroots level.

He said a pilot programme on this had been conducted in Pahang and that it proven to be effective. -- Bernama

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Dental grads only need serve 2 years

NST PETALING JAYA: A study by the Health Ministry revealed that most young children below the age of 7 suffered from dental cavities. Its deputy minister, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, said the oral health of younger children, who are not in the school system, needed improvement.
"This may be attributed to family and environmental factors, which requires us to redouble our education and awareness efforts on dental hygiene," she said at the launch of the Colgate Oral Health Month 2012 campaign at 1Utama shopping centre yesterday.
Rosnah added that less than one third of 6 year olds were decay-free in 2010.
The campaign, in its ninth year, aims to reach out to 500,000 members of the public via roadshows providing free dental check-ups at 772 participating dental clinics nationwide.
She said the ministry's National Oral Health Plan (2011-2020) sought to achieve caries-free teeth for children aged 6, 12 and 16.
"So far, the results have been encouraging with caries-free status of 12-year-olds hitting 63 per cent in 2007, and 16-year-olds at 52 per cent."
She highlighted that the ministry planned to increase the number of dental clinics with two or more permanent dental officers to provide daily outpatient services.
"This year, the ministry has set a target of 250 of these clinics to serve the community with daily dental outpatient services," she said, adding that oral health services in rural areas could be improved with better access.
She said starting this month, the ministry planned to serve basic dental care to an estimated population of 14,186 in 24 identified villages and estates.
"The local community will be informed a week before these visits."
Rosnah added that complex cases needing follow-up for health or dental reasons would be referred to the nearest clinic or hospital.
The Malaysian Dental Health Association president, Dr Mohammad Muzaffar Hamirudin, meanwhile, said 90 per cent of Malaysian adults suffered from dental cavities.
"The public must realise that oral disease may also be linked to life- threatening conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke."

More locally manufactured drugs to bring down medicine cost

The Star THE Healthcare National Key Economic Area (NKEA) focuses on bringing both the public and private sectors into collaboration.

The 2010 Healthcare NKEA Lab resulted in six entry point projects (EPPs) and two Business Opportunities, which combined, are expected to generate RM35.3bil incremental Gross National Impact (GNI) and 181,000 new jobs by the year 2020.

Under EPP 3 of this NKEA, the industry is eyeing best-selling drugs going off-patent in the next ten years. Local pharmaceutical companies stand to gain from the substantial slash in costs when these drugs worth RM435bil lose their patents.

In July 2011, the Economic Council approved the Pharmaceutical Off-Take Agreement-Government Procurement for New Local Manufactured Pharmaceuticals.

The scheme allows the Government to procure locally manufactured products from qualified manufacturers for a set period of time. The manufacturers are required to register their products in another country before the contract to supply is extended for another set period of time. This will be a very important incentive for new pharmaceutical plants to expand or invest in producing new locally manufactured products.

On Oct 12 2011, the Health Ministry (MoH) announced the revision of compulsory service for pharmacists from three years to one, with the option to extend service for an additional year. This allows for the availability of more pharmacists in the private sector.

The Prime Minister also announced two private sector initiatives in 2011 called Project Hovid Objective Pharmaceutical Excellence (Hope) and the Biocon facility at BioXcell in Iskandar.

On Nov 2 2010, Hovid and Winthrop Pharmaceutical (M) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Sanofi Aventis Group, entered into an agreement to develop generic drugs.

Valued at approximately RM5mil for the first three years, the collaboration includes dossier development together with the manufacture and supply of pharmaceutical drugs.

The first phase of this agreement focuses on the supply of Metformin 850mg MR for the treatment of diabetes and the painkiller Tramadol 100mg SR.

In November 2011, Winthrop Pharmaceuticals extended its agreement with Hovid for the production of four new generic medicines in the areas of allergies, gastrointestinal disease, epilepsy, neuropathic pain and diabetes.

Last June, Indian pharmaceutical giant Biocon Limited announced an investment of RM500mil towards the establishment of a state-of-theart manufacturing facility at BioXcell, Iskandar.

The first Biocon factory outside India, the facility will focus on developing and manufacturing biopharmaceutical products, including recombinant proteins, human insulin and insulin analogues, as well as other sterile drug products and their delivery devices. The facility is expected to be in operation by 2014.

This year, the focus will be to review and address issues relating to pharmaceutical patent law and policy in Malaysia.

MoH will continue efforts to optimise utilisation of local bioequivalence facilities. These will include upgrading local facilities and introducing incentives to encourage local manufacturers to opt for these facilities.

Under the Healthcare Travel EPP, EPP 4, the target is to broaden Malaysia’s health customer base and increase the margin of outpatient treatments.

While the market remains small for Malaysia, there are plenty of opportunities for us to reposition ourselves as leaders in specific niches, driving a shift towards high quality and valuable experiences for healthcare tourists.

As the primary owner and driver of this EPP, the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) has been focused on developing impactful marketing campaigns, with core responsibilities that include promotion and marketing, business development, capacity building and eco-system facilitation.

On the other hand, MoH and the Tourism Ministry have been responsible for concerted efforts to develop better infrastructure and improve strategic bilateral relations.

To increase the number of medical specialists, beginning March 2011, foreign spouses of medical specialists working in Malaysia are automatically issued temporary employment passes.

In October 2011, the MHTC was corporatised under Section 24 of Companies Act 1965.

In the following month, advertising guidelines were reviewed and hospitals are now allowed to publish patient testimonials in their marketing collateral.

With these efforts to boost the sector’s development, private sector investments have increased. Last year, the Prime Minister announced commitments from Sime Darby Healthcare and Kumpulan Perubatan Johor (KPJ) to build new hospitals that will cater for increasing demand of the local population and higher expectations from health travellers.

Sime Darby will open medical centres in Ara Damansara, which will house a brain centre, a heart centre and a spine and joint centre, and in Desa Parkcity, which will focus on breast oncology, child development and the treatment of chronic illnesses.

KPJ will build five different hospitals over the next three years - Dato’ Onn International Specialist Hospital in Iskandar Malaysia, Pasir Gudang Specialist Hospital in Johor, Sabah Medical Centre in Kota Kinabalu, Bandar Baru Klang Specialist Hospital in Klang and Pahang Specialist Hospital in Kuantan.

MHTC together with other agencies such as the Finance Ministry and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority is working on the drafts of investment tax incentives for qualifying local healthcare facilities registered under MHTC as health travel promoting facilities.

The incentives are to be gazetted early this year and will hopefully encourage local players to expand and upgrade their facilities to attract health travelers.

On top of this, MHTC will also develop and carry out coordinated and intensive marketing programmes in existing and new markets.

What really happened at the Ministry of Health roadshow — Steven K.W. Chow @ Thu Apr 05 2012

MI APRIL 5 — The title of the event was “Pelancaran Siri Jejalah Public Engagement-Kajian Sistem Kesihatan Malaysia” but what really happened on March 31 was a paradox. As a media event it was well organised.

The members of most of the mainstream media were at hand. They, together with the large number of government servants still in their uniforms or with their name tags, virtually made up the bulk of the crowd. The robust public presence that was supposed to be the objective of this engagement was clearly missing.

Thus it was not surprising that the discussion was devoid of substance and spirit.

Firstly, the announcement was only made known a mere three days prior to the event. Insufficient notice and the choice of the busy Saturday morning hours for the event were effective in excluding many doctors and members of the public who were genuinely interested in providing some useful feedback.

Secondly, the time allocated for actual public engagement speaks well for itself and reflects on the sincerity of the call for meaningful public discussion.

The minister’s speech alone took 30 minutes. The three invited panellists took more than 30 minutes and the chairman took another 10 minutes in introduction and comments. Then the panellists’ rebuttal before closing took another 20 minutes. So what was left for questions and comments was less than 30 minutes. That was the level of the public engagement and discussion for this much-touted event.

Thirdly, the call for transparency and how this would avoid the politicising of the issue was loud and clear. One would have expected the minister to lay out clearly on the table the details of the second 1 Care paper (which is the follow-up of the first concept paper) for public knowledge and debate. Revealing details of this would have gone a long way to reassuring the public that the Ministry of Health was indeed on the path of meaningful public engagement for its programme to reform, evolve or transform (or call it whatever) the national healthcare system for the betterment of the rakyat.

Instead, valuable time and effort was used spinning old yarns and overused rhetoric that we have heard over the past four months. The usual menu of “denials, things are too early, nothing is decided, still in concept stage/option stage, profiling of critics, etc, etc” was repeated for the benefit of the Press. It was clear that the strategy was to avoid talking about the details.

To make things even more patronising, a member of the panel (a GP) and a similar-minded speaker from the floor (another GP) were going on and on about how terrible life as a GP is today, i.e. long working hours, falling patient load and how 1 Care would make it better for GPs, for themselves, their income, shorter working hours and their judicious use of power as gatekeepers for patients.

The ultimate important question on how much more would the already over-burdened 1.5 million or so taxpayers are expected to pay for the new healthcare delivery system was left silent and untouched.

Equally noticeable too was the absence of the mention of 1 Care in the minister’s speech which made someone quip to him whether the Ministry of Health itself “pun Tak nak 1Care”.

In conclusion, the MOH road show did not kick off with a healthy start but on the wrong foot. This was a golden opportunity to show the rakyat that the minister of health was willing to walk the talk and confidently lay down the latest details of the second 1 Care paper for valuable public scrutiny and debate.

This was the transparency that a distinguished panellist, Dr Chandran Muzaffar, was calling for. Without this transparency, the public will continue to question the ministry’s proposal especially if it is not supported with adequate and meaningful public and stakeholder feedback. Surely the trust of the public for the ministry and vice versa could not have fallen so low?

* Dr Steven K.W. Chow is president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Association, Malaysia.

Pharmaniaga aims to increase revenue contribution from private sector, says MD

The Edge KUALA LUMPUR (April 4): PHARMANIAGA BHD [] (Pharmaniaga) is looking to increase the revenue contribution from the private sector from the 3% at present, said its managing director, Datuk Farshila Emran.

Farshila said after its AGM on Wednesday that the group was hoping to achieve a target of about 6% to 7% revenue contribution from the private sector for its FY2012, ending Dec 31.

The private sector includes private hospitals and private clinics.

“There are also other private markets which comprise of private hospitals as well as institutional hospitals as well which we are including in the private sector.

There are many in the pipeline and we’re hoping to have growth from the private sector,” she said.

Pharmaniaga recorded a net profit of RM52.8 million, a 74% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth from last year’s net profit of RM30.31 million. This was on the back of a revenue of RM1.52 million recorded for FY2011, 10.14% higher than FY2010’s revenue of RM1.38 million.

Meanwhile, Pharmaniaga chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin said the company remains upbeat on its prospects for 2012 on the back of its achievement of a 62% year-on-year increase in profit before tax to RM73 million for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2011 from RM45 million in 2010.

He said the company’s confidence to strengthen its earning potential for 2012 was backed by its substantial growth in revenue of RM1.5 billion in 2011, which was its highest in 5 years.

In a statement issued Wednesday in conjunction with Pharmaniaga’s AGM, Lodin said the first nine months under the Boustead Group had resulted in tangible benefits to their bottom line and they were happy to reward shareholders with a significant 61% payout ratio for the year under review.

“Our shareholders are able to enjoy a 4.7% yield based on the closing price for the financial year,” he said.

He also said that shareholders were also given bonus issue on the basis of one Pharmaniaga bonus share for every 10 shares held.

According to Lodin, several significant operational restructuring programmes at all levels were initiated to improve efficiencies and productivity that resulted in their achievement.

Lodin said he was optimistic about the group’s growth and prospects for the coming year as they were committed in expanding their business locally and internationally by enhancing their capabilities towards strengthening shareholders value.

“We trust the renewal in the Concession Agreement (CA) with the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the supply of pharmaceutical products for a 10-year period will be the catalyst for this growth and allow us to move up the pharmaceutical value chain,” he said.

Monday, April 02, 2012

11 Critical Targets For Healthcare NKEA In 2012

Bernama KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 -- The government has outlined 11 critical targets for the Healthcare National Key Economic Area (NKEA) for 2012.

These are to expand Foreign Workers Health Insurance to foreign workers in Sabah and Sarawak, corporatisation of Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), incentives to encourage the establishment of more bioequivalence centres, implementation of Pharmaceutical Off-Take Agreement and Amendment to Patent Act, according to the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) Annual Report 2011 by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).

The other targets are to increase in the expansion of hospitals and ambulatory centres, expansion of the Diagnostic Services Nexus (DSN) to more public and private hospitals, completion of earthworks for the construction of University of Malaya (UM) Health Metropolis, establishment of Medical Device Authority by May 2012, enforcement of National Regulations for Medical Device by October 2012 and Conversion of Seniors Living Business Opportunities (BOs) to Entry Point Projects (EPPs).

The Healthcare NKEA intends to focus on bringing both the public and private sectors into collaboration and its main aim is to identify private sector initiatives and opportunities to develop the healthcare sector into a more organised and coherent manner.

On mandating private health insurance for all foreign workers and improve workmen's compensation coverage, Pemandu said discussions are currently underway to extend the scheme to other sectors and Sabah and Sarawak.

The EPP of creating a supportive ecosystem to grow clinical research plans to corporatise CRM this year is to allow it to improve its operational efficiency and attract more clinical trials to the country.

In the leverage patent expiry by pursuing generic opportunities, the focus in 2012 will be to review and address issues relating to pharmaceutical patent law and policy in Malaysia.

The Ministry of Health Malaysia will optimise the utilisation of local bioequivalence facilities, which included upgrading local facilities and introducing incentives to encourage local manufacturers to opt for these facilities.

On healthcare travel, the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) together with other agencies such as the Ministry of Finance and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) is working on the drafts of investment tax incentives to qualify local healthcare facilities who are registered under MHTC as health travel promoting facilities.

This year, the DSN will focus on building capacity and branding of the services by linking radiologists across the country, thus creating a sizeable pool of expertise to enable the parallel expansion of the services to the private healthcare providers and more public facilities.

At the same time, the DSN will also seek in-sourcing services from other countries.

Meanwhile, the UM Health Metropolis, which is expected to be fully operational by early 2016, will potentially contribute RM986 million in Gross National Income (GNI) while creating an estimated 10,400 new jobs by 2020. Construction works on the metropolis are expected to start early next year.

The 2010 Healthcare NKEA lab comprised six EPPs and two BOs, which are expected to generate a combined RM35.3 billion incremental GNI and create 181,000 new jobs by 2020.

Private clinics want to go 1Malaysia way

The Star SEREMBAN: Private clinics are keen to adopt the services currently provided by the 1Malaysia clinics and have spoken to the Government about it.

“They recently met me and I have told them to submit a comprehensive proposal as to how this can work,” Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

He was speaking to reporters after opening a 1Malaysia clinic in Taman Bukit Mika, near here, yesterday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak mooted the concept in his 2010 Budget as part of the Government's People First, Performance Now pledge to provide immediate healthcare to housing areas in need of basic health services.

Since the first 1Malaysia clinic opened in Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur, in December 2009, more than 100 such clinics have opened nationwide.

The community clinics are strategically located and open 12 hours daily from 10am, with qualified nurses and medical assistants providing treatment for just RM1 (non-Malaysians pay RM15).

Liow said another 50 1Malaysia clinics would be opened this year.

He added that his ministry would station doctors at 1Malaysia clinics which treat more than 100 patients daily.

He added that although senior medical assistants who currently man these facilities, were competent, it was better to station doctors where the patient volume is highest.

“This is important as these clinics help reduce congestion at government hospitals and at other health facilities,” said Liow, adding that patients could, among other things, seek treatment for flu, cough and fever and have minor wounds dressed at 1Malaysia clinics.

Healthcare roadshows off to a good start

The Star PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry's roadshows on Malaysia's healthcare transformation kicked off with its top officials and the public coming together at its first forum here.

More than 100 healthcare professionals and the public filled the hall at the Institute for Health Management for the event yesterday.

The forum, moderated by Universiti Sains Malaysia pro-chancellor Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan, featured three panellists International Movement for a Just World president Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Primary Care Doctors' Organisation Malaysia representative Dr Mahendran Markandoo and Health deputy director-general (medical) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, in his opening speech, said changes to the healthcare system would be implemented in stages.

“Whatever system we implement must be better than the system we have now,” he said, adding the ministry had yet to decide on a new healthcare model.

Liow said the public engagement exercise would be carried out till the end of the year.

“Hopefully, next month we can organise another one,” he said, adding the frequency of the forums would depend on the “needs of the situation in a particular area”.

Liow also said ideas and opinions expressed during the roadshows would be compiled for the ministry's consideration while discussions with technical working groups would continue.

He added that the ministry would look into better ways to inform the public about the forums, including posting details on its website.

Dr Chandra welcomed the idea of public engagement and national dialogue on healthcare.

He hoped the Government would listen to the views of all parties and urged the public to be sincere in engaging with the Government.

Mahendran rooted for change, voicing his concern on the healthcare burden of an ageing population and increasing healthcare costs.

Noor Hisham explained the need to transform the healthcare system into one which was of high quality and affordable.

While most doctors in the audience were concerned about the details of the proposed healthcare model, the public wanted to find out whether they would get improved access to healthcare and if they would have to pay more for a new system.