Letter to editor
CONGRATULATIONS to Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad upon his re-appointment as the Health Minister.
Our GP (general practitioner) system of one-stop healthcare delivery by independent solo practitioners is the cheapest and the one of best around the region.
Indeed, one solo practitioner in his clinic can cater for the immediate medical and healthcare needs of thousands of patients in the community. This is the most robust cost-effective system shown to work in increasing the productivity of our workforce.
A study by the Health Ministry as far back as in 1986 revealed that the cost of per patient-doctor encounter in the private GP clinic (RM 28 per patient) is way below that in the government clinic (RM56 per patient). This finding will be no different today.
In the past, private GPs despite accounting for only 40% of the outpatient healthcare providers were able see up to 60% of the out-patient load.
Today, their patient care has been severely affected by middlemen in the business of medicine who use cumbersome micro-management regulations and quasi regulations to restrict the quality and quantity of care that patients rightfully deserve.
Our solo practitioner GP system is in danger of being strangled. Foreign-owned entities are buying into our primary care clinics.
This is clearly contrary to earlier Health Ministry (MOH) policy which was that our GP sector should not be open to commercialisation by foreign entities. To maximise their profits, one can see that cost will go up and quality of care will decrease.
Our private GP system is an efficient and cost-effective system to ease outpatient congestion, thus leaving the government hospitals to focus on secondary and tertiary care.
Sending the patient to the GPs near their home makes common sense and is economically the correct solution like what is being done is a neighbouring country.
Current reforms to our healthcare system should not end up deforming our existing GP system. Instead, it should nurture and strengthen the role of GPs in primary care. – Dec 13, 2023
Dr Steven K.W. Chow*
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
* Dr Steven K.W. Chow is the past-president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) and founding chairman for DRSforALL/FPMPAM.