Friday, January 8, 2010

CAP: Gov't on right track with '1Malaysia' clinics

Gov't on right track with '1Malaysia' clinics
SM Mohamed Idris
Jan 8, 10
The Consumer's Association of Penang (CAP) lauds the government's initiative in introducing the '1Malaysia' community clinic network to help to meet the urgent health needs of the rakyat in urban areas. In the past, CAP has called for more government clinics in urban areas across the country to help reduce the number of patients to the general hospitals.
A random survey by CAP on the number of private clinics within a 500-meter radius in an urban area in Penang showed not less than 15 clinics in operation. Most people living in the area were from the lower and middle-income groups who - if given a choice - would prefer to seek treatment from a public healthcare facility instead of these clinics due to the high cost of treatment.

The government's initiative is timely in light of the present socio-economic status of the rakyat. With escalating private healthcare costs and all-round inflation, it is important that the rakyat be provided with a choice of accessible public and private healthcare providers to choose from.

The '1Malaysia' clinic primary healthcare system under the government's '1Care' programme as part of the government's health plan under the 10 Malaysia Plan is indeed a well-organised initiative aimed at providing the delivery of equitable quality healthcare to the rakyat.

The idea of a full-fledged public health community clinic system to provide comprehensive primary healthcare for the rakyat is actually 10 years late going by the government's concord with the international agreement, the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 whereby:

'A main social target of governments, international organisations and the whole world community in the coming decades should be the attainment by all peoples of the world by the year 2000 of a level of health that will permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life. Primary health care is the key to attaining this target as part of development in the spirit of social justice.'

The Declaration of Alma-Ata was adopted at the International Conference on Primary Health Care, Almaty (formerly Alma-Ata), currently Kazakhstan in September 1978. It expressed the need for urgent action by all governments, all health and development workers and the world community to protect and promote the health of all the people of the world. It was the first international declaration underlining the importance of primary health care.

CAP trusts that the true spirit of the Alma Ata Declaration is being observed by the health ministry and is being put into practice for the altruistic benefit of the rakyat.

Recently, Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, reaffirmed the primary health care approach as the most efficient and cost-effective way to organise a health system. She also pointed out that international evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that health systems oriented towards primary health care produce better outcomes, at lower costs and with higher user satisfaction.

With such proven outcomes, CAP believes that the government is on the right track and all that is left to do now is to prove the detractors of this system wrong by successfully accomplishing its objectives with the interests of the rakyat wholly at heart.

The writer is president, Consumers Association of Penang.

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