PUTRAJAYA: The healthcare industry has the potential to contribute RM10bil to the national economy by concentrating in four sectors, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The areas are pharmaceutical, production of medical equipment, health tourism and training of specialists.
“While this will be mostly private sector-driven, my ministry will facilitate and provide expert assistance to the concerned companies.
“It will be a challenging time for us but we are all excited and ready to help realise the Government’s aim of generating more income from healthcare services,” he told reporters after presenting excellence service awards to Health Ministry staff yesterday.
The industry contributes some RM4bil to the economy.
Private healthcare is one of the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) under the 10th Malaysia Plan.
While the ministry targeted RM10bil in annual revenue by 2020, Liow said he was confident the goal could be achieved earlier.
One aim would be for local pharmaceutical companies to produce higher quality generic drugs which could be exported.
Liow said discussions would be held with medical equipment companies to see how his ministry could help boost production to increase export, adding that Malaysia has the expertise to provide training for foreign doctors and specialists.
“As for health tourism, we already have 35 hospitals and clinics, including dental clinics that are promoting their services.
“The ministry has also set up the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council to promote the country’s healthcare services abroad,” he said.
Liow said the ministry would not abandon its core business of providing health services to the people.
The ministry had put in place a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge the efficiency of its services – particularly in emergency assistance, pharmacy, counter service, clinic service and operations.
On another matter, the ministry refuted news reports about the outbreak of malaria in Sekinchan, Selangor, saying the recent death due to the disease involved a fisherman from Myanmar.
The three others warded in Sungai Karang hospital were also Myanmar nationals.
“They were all imported cases. We have also conducted blood test on 122 locals and 219 foreigners in the area. All tests came back negative,” he said. - Star, 25/6/2010, Healthcare can bring RM10bil to economy, says Liow
Friday, June 25, 2010
Health Minister's priority is not making money - but ensuring universal healthcare for all in Malaysia
What should be the focus and the priority of the Minister of Health?
Should it not be to ensure the best free(or affordable) healthcare for all persons in Malaysia now and in the future?
Or should it be how to promote the healthcare industry - so that more money can be made?
As it is, people in Malaysia generally do not access to 'heart healthcare' ever since it has been taken away from the government hospitals, and placed under the National Heart Institute ( which really behaves like a private hospital despite being fully owned by the government) - whereby the amount of money it charges is beyond the means of most persons in Malaysia...and they do die sooner by reason of this. [Go visit the IJN website - and you will see that it is more interested in wooing foreign clients and paying clients - rather than providing healthcare for Malaysians generally]
Making money from healthcare should not be the priority of the Minister or the UMNO-led BN government - it should be the universal healthcare of all persons in Malaysia...
In Thailand, ordinary people can go to some private hospitals and get treatment at the same nominal rate they pay at government hospitals. Maybe, Malaysia should also be looking at this especially for the Klang Valley region - where there really is a great shortage of government healthcare facilities. There is now no government hospitals in Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya,....
Problems that people in Malaysia are facing today:-
- unavailability of sufficient medicine, so much so many a time people are asked to come back every 2 weeks (or monthly) to get the balance of their medicines. Sometime, some medicines are just not available. Doctors examine patients, prescribe the taking of certain medicines - but the government pharmacy does not have it (or is in short supply).
- when certain machines break down - there is just no funds to do the needful repairs, and hence blood tests etc just cannot get done.
- the new policy of the Health Ministry seem to be just doing the really necessary blood and other tests, and not like before, where it was the norm for doctors to order the patients (especially in certain categories like aged, diabetics, etc..) to be given full(or more comprehensive) blood tests, etc periodically maybe once a year. Of course, this is important for early detection - which can be dealt with soonest.
- In government hospitals/polyclinics, the waiting time still is very long - sometimes up to 6-7 hours just to see the doctors, and that is proof that we certainly need more doctors. I invite the Minister to go incognito, and spend some time sitting in the waiting area of government hospitals to better understand the problems.
Care for the people of Malaysia should be the priority - and when you have reached the status of countries like Cuba, then maybe you could consider 'medico-tourism'. How much money has the Malaysian government been spending to attract customers for the private healthcare institutions in Malaysia? The Ministers priority must be government healthcare. With regards to private healthcare facilities, all that needs be done is to set policy, standards, etc... We do not want to hear of a case that an accident victim in serious condition was rushed to the nearest hospital, being a private one, who died (or became worse) because the private hospital doctors refused to treat....'no money...no treat' policy. Minister have to control these private institutions. Make sure that they treat locals...
Pharmaceutical - this would be a good area that emphasis be given, but the priority must be for the production of cheap affordable medicine for the consumption of persons in Malaysia, and persons in other poor and/or developing countries. That means, we must be concerned in research and development - not merely the setting up of more factories of existing multi-national pharmaceutical companies in Malaysia. [Why don't the UMNO-led BN government confess that they are responsible for the increased cost of medicines in Malaysia. When they signed the WTO and other Free Trade Agreements, it was not really just about 'copyrighted' CDs/VCDs...it was also about computer programs, medicines, etc...and today Malaysia cannot even produce its own generic medicines...i.e. those tablets that had that "KK" on it]
Production of Medical Equipments - this too again may be good. But, important for us to have our own research and development and own products, rather than just housing a foreign companies factory in Malaysia. At the same time, it is important that we also ensure that the human rights of the workers are not just protected but at the highest standard. See earlier post:- STOP PENALIZING WORKERS WHO WANT TO GET JUSTICE - MAXTER GLOVE SHOULD REINSTATE BURMESE MIGRANT WORKER WHO COMPLAINED TO LABOUR DEPARTMENT[Well, this company produces medical gloves for the international market, and about 70 international and local groups have endorsed this media statement as of today]
Training of Specialist - well, if we have the capacity, let us do it. But, at the same time let us also not forget about the generating and training of more doctors, medical assistants, nurses, and other medical support staff. Why only specialists?
Medico Tourism - well, this should be given the lowest priority. The Ministry(government) can give its blessing and support - but no money should be expended on this. The day we find that our government doctors are sitting down with no work after 1 pm because all patients have been dealt with, we can start to think about medico-tourism. Private hospitals and clinics can use their own resources to woo foreign patients as potential customers of their service. The government need not expend the 'people's money' for the benefit of private institutions....despite the fact it may be the same politicians, their family and friends being the 'owners' of these institutions.