Friday, January 15, 2010

Daily Express (Sabah): The 1M'sia clinics breach Acts: Docs

The 1M'sia clinics breach Acts: Docs

Daily Express INDEPENDENT NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF EAST MALAYSIA, Established since 1963; Published on: Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kota Kinabalu: The four 1Malaysia clinics set up by the Health Ministry in Sabah so far is not a good idea, according to several practising doctors, here.

However, they said while the clinics' intention may be noble, they clearly contradict both the Private Facilities Healthcare Act (PFHA) and the Pharmaceutical Act (PA).

One doctor who wished anonymity said the fact that these clinics would be manned by Medical Assistants (MAs) and nurses makes the PFHA "look like a silly piece of legislation because it is clearly stated that only Medical Officers (MOs) with valid annual practising certificates can practise as doctors."

"Besides, these nurses and MAs will be functioning like paramedics at times when their ability to handle emergency situations is questionable.

They are also only supposed to dispense non-scheduled drugs. But what if they have to prescribe cough syrup or antibiotics which are scheduled drugs? Then they will be going against the Pharmaceutical Act." he said.

Another doctor who also wished anonymity said it would benefit undocumented foreigners more than ordinary Malaysians since this is the group that favours private doctors because they can get medical treatment for RM20-30 without being referred to the Immigration authorities.

"There is a standing instruction for all government doctors to refer illegal immigrants seeking medical care to the authorities for deportation.

Will this be done under the 1Malaysia clinics?" he asked.

A doctor at the government hospital, who now has set up his own private clinic, said in terms of the quality of service, the 1Malaysia clinics must not be exempted from complying with the health regulations.

Since they are set up under the Ministry, he said the 1Malaysia clinics should especially perform at the same level, if not better, than other private clinics in Malaysia.

He also queried the actual purpose of the clinics when the country is facing a shortage of doctors and professional medical staff.

The Government should firstly consider equipping various health centres in the State with complete facilities and manpower to better serve the needs of people in the rural areas as well as in the towns and city, he said.

"It is a shame the State and Federal Governments, especially the Health Ministry, that we still don't have a proper general hospital here in KK in this 21st century," he said.

Dr Jaina of Klinik Dr Jaina in Centre Point said there is nothing wrong about the clinics and that the low fees is a commendable effort by the Government.

However, she said it would be better if the Government could equip the 1 Malaysia clinics with complete facilities and medical staff, especially doctors, to make the move more effective.

Another doctor said that the move was rushed without much consideration for the people. "I think there is a political weight in the whole issue," he said, pointing out that if the government is actually concerned for the sick and needy, it should concentrate on equipping other clinics and hospitals in Sabah.

For another practitioner, the 1Malaysia clinics are good only for minor complaints such as cough and cold, whereas for major problems, hospitals are still the best place to go to for treatment.

"It is a good place to get first aid treatment, but the patient must quickly be referred to a bigger institution thereafterÉ in places where there are no clinics or hospital around, it is better than none," he said.

He said the fund used by the government in setting up the 1Malaysia clinics was poorly spent.

"If the allocation only involved thousands of ringgit, then it is acceptable as a market tester, but when it involves millions of ringgit, the Government should spend it more wisely to equip the clinics and all the hospitals available now.

"Perhaps the Minister is so busy fighting for the party (MCA) that he forgot to take care of the health industry and give more attention to healthcare in the stateÉ he should visit clinics and hospitals more often," he said.

State National Population & Family Development Board (LPPKN) director, Abd Halil Omar, said the 1 Malaysia clinics would benefit the people as they are highly affordable.

"This will enable people from all walks of life to enjoy better medical treatment regardless of where there are and what their status is," he said.

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