'1Malaysia' clinics: Rubbish them or improve them?
My goodness, are we on the wrong track here! Malaysiakini has carried several stories lashing out at the '1Malaysia' clinics, but, as ever, most of the voices come from bean bag know-it-alls.
I am pleased MMA president Dr David Quek – who would be one of the few in the trenches – has spoken favourably and fairly about the clinics and their establishment.
But I nearly fell off my chair when I read the story about malpractice at the clinics. Has Dr T Jayabalan just woken up? Malpractice is everywhere, in this country and all over the world.
So firstly, let's not act like there was never any margin for human error. Much better that we act on narrowing it.
Secondly, the clinics were launched in January. Why did it take Jayabalan three months to bring this issue up? Is it because he was conducting his study? If so, then it would seem that this 'malpractice' was foreseeable. In which case, shouldn't he have publicised the theme of his study for the sake of public awareness?
Better yet, he could have written an open letter to the health minister voicing his concerns or sent him an e-mail or even a Facebook message. These days, he could have even Tweeted him. No shortage of channels there.
Thirdly, the transparency issue is a pathetic waste of time. Was Jayabalan's study transparent? Did he announce it before it was conducted? If so, can we please have his methodology, sample size, questions and tabulated results with anecdotes from interviews?
We could go point for point, but let's not bother anymore. The clinics are there. Is the intent to rubbish them or improve them? So far it has been the latter. Unless you have been in the healthcare system, both public and private as I have, it is hard to penetrate these ridiculous arguments.
This is sad, desperate politicking. It's a fight about who's right, not about doing what's right.
So this is what I suggest. Stop talking. Help the people who really need these services by offering to assist in upgrading the facilities.
You could hold talks in vernacular languages, explaining what kinds of cases the '1Malaysia' clinics are suited to handle. You could gather donations to print posters saying the same. Through the MMA, get the Health Ministry's permission to put them up in the clinics.
You could gather doctors to volunteer their services (The arguments used about doctors have portrayed them very unfairly as money-grabbing. Several doctors and dentists I know would be only more than willing to offer their services. So many already are).
Many of the doctors I refer to are in the public healthcare system so to say they will be 'pinched' and public hospitals will become understaffed is alarmist. This comes from the 'brain drain' occurrence. There has no doubt been one, but the Health Ministry has already taken remedial steps. Doctors in public hospitals have had their pay upgraded, and are now allowed to do private practising hours.
A GP in the private sector told me that any doctor in a government hospital far out-earns her.
You could have the MAs and SNs watch the doctors while they work, so that they polish their skills.
You could even have an 'adopt-a-clinic' drive – health practitioners living near the clinics could form groups, and decide what they could volunteer. The clinics are there, like it or not. And there are hundreds of people desperate for care.
To the critics of this programme: You have the skills. You have the insight. You have influence. You have an approachable health minister. Just make it work.