Friday, June 13, 2008

Doctor-Patient Ratio in Malaysia is appaling - We need to seriously look at HEALTHCARE for the masses.

Let us not forget that this is JUST another area in which the government had really slacked. At one time, there was this "policy", it seems to "privatize" health-care - and so the government apparently stopped building government hospitals and promoted private hospitals. Then, they changed their mind and started again building government hospitals.

But then without informing the people, the Government went and signed WTO Agreements including the 'not at all good for Malaysia' TRIPS Agreement - and thereafter the cost of medicines sky-rocketted. Gone were the days when we had them "KK" medicines, whereby KK, I believe, stood for Kementerian Kesihatan. Now the government is bound by "copyright" "trademark" etc and have to get medicines from them BIG powerful medical companies - and hence the cost of medicine sky-rocketed. Now, it is not uncommon to find that in government hospitals, the pharmacy asks patients to just take part of their supply of prescribed medicine and come back in a month for the balance of their medicine.. With the fuel rise, additional burden will be felt by the consumer of government medical care services.

Talking about doctors, the amount of monies expended to train doctors is very high - and medical students in the local government universities only pay a small fraction of this cost. Previously, there has been a condition that just graduated doctors should render their services to the government for certain number of years - maybe that should be revised to a longer term as full-time services, and thereafter part-time services for yet another period.

Now, the government is trying to woo medical practitioners from the private sector ...but "...the Government was offering the private practitioners an allowance of up to RM80 an hour...". I believe that this is rather low, and should be revised. I also believe that there should be consideration as to the number of years of practice, as well as qualifications.

The police, army and the fire depart have a volunteer corp, who do step in from time to time when assistance is needed. Maybe, it is time to also set up a kind of "volunteer medical corp" - which will not just include doctors BUT also other medical staff, and this could be done at the individual hospital levels or town levels -- and I believe that Malaysians who are doctors and medical staff in private practice would HELP and assist where possible. A forming of such a body or association can also help negotiate and iron out the terms of service.

It is of course SHOCKING and most embarrassing to now become aware that the doctor-patient ratio is so far from what it should be in a developed nation. Malaysian government claims that we are on the VERGE of being a developed nation...

doctor to patient ratio was 1 to 1,145, when the ratio for developed countries was 1 to 600"

I have already also pointed out in my blogs that we are also in a pathetic state with regard to our courts -- and also our schools:-

Federal Court chief registrar Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat (as reported in
New Straits Times, 20/9/2006), disclosed that the number of judges in the country was low compared with other Commonwealth nations. He was quoted as saying that the Malaysian ratio is "2.4 judges to a million people - a far cry from the ratio in India (10.5), Australia (57.1), Britain (50.1) and Canada (75)."

Deputy Education Minister Razali Ismail ...said "70 percent of schools in the country already have access to water and electricity...." and that means that 30 percent of schools do not even have access to water and electricity. (Malaysiakini 6/6/2008, 'One-third of schools lack water, power').

Friday June 13, 2008 (Star Online)

Docs shy away from service at govt hospitals


IPOH: The Health Ministry has received dismal response from private doctors after its call for them to volunteer their services at government medical facilities, said minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai.

Disappointed, Liow said only one doctor from the private sector had come forward since he made the call a month ago, making it just eight since the move was introduced half a year ago.

He doubted that the low take-up rate was because the Government was offering the private practitioners an allowance of up to RM80 an hour.

“When I made the statement a month ago, many private doctors praised the move because they would be able to come forward, not for the money but for the challenge of the job.

“Perhaps many of them don’t know where to sign up for the scheme,” speculated Liow, who urged those interested to do so at the ministry website (

He said the country was still facing a severe shortage of doctors in government , with only 60% or 13,000 posts filled so far.

This meant that the doctor to patient ratio was 1 to 1,145, when the ratio for developed countries was 1 to 600, said Liow.

In George Town later, Liow said the ministry had appealed to the European Union (EU) for more time to improve the standard and quality of fishery products exported to Europe.

Currently, Malaysia exports about RM1.5bil of fishery products to Europe annually.

Liow said the ministry would hold a dialogue with the exporters on Monday before tabling the issue at the next Cabinet meeting.

He was commenting on a report that the EU might impose a possible ban as seafood products from Malaysia had failed to meet the EU health standards. The EU’s Food and Veterinary Office representatives had visited seafood processing companies and facilities supporting the industry here in April.

In a random check, six out of nine exporters were found to be lagging behind in the health standards and practices set by the EU.

They have been blacklisted, with an immediate effect, from exporting their products to Europe, said Liow, adding the government had also de-listed the six .

“We are committed in doing our part to ensure the exporters abide by the EU regulations,” he told a press conference after attending the presentation of Joint Commission International accreditation for Penang Adventist Hospital here yesterday.

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