Govt concerned over high concentration of private medical practices, says Dr Sim

Dr Sim (seated) gets his blood pressure checked at the 22nd Family Medicine Scientific Conference.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Aug 1: The government is concerned about the high concentration of private medical practices in Malaysia’s healthcare system, said Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian.

This, he said, is especially in urban areas due to demand by affluent communities.

Speaking at the 22nd Family Medicine Scientific Conference here today, Sim said in 1993, there were 3,055 general practitioner clinics and 190 private hospitals and nursing homes in Malaysia.

“However, in the year 2000, 46.2 per cent of all doctors were in the private sector which was accountable for only 20.3 per cent of hospital beds while 58.8 per cent of the specialists were in the private sector and about 41.2 per cent were in the public sector,” he said.

As there is not enough manpower in the public sector to take care of all the patients there, Dr Sim urged all parties including private and public sectors to work together to provide the best healthcare to the public.

“High quality healthcare is essential for building trust in the community and for ensuring the sustainability of the healthcare system. The district, state and national levels should be equipped to continuously assess and improve the quality of primary healthcare facilities (PHC).

“In recent years, emphasis has been placed on incentive schemes, particularly financial ones — for example, through specific payment methods — while other types of incentives relate to promoting a culture of professionalism, increasing resources, promoting teamwork and providing information tools,” Dr Sim said.

The public and private sectors often overlap, which is why individual healthcare professionals may practise in both and there is a significant proportion of patients seeking services from both sectors as well, he added.

This, Dr Sim noted, may have implications for resourcing as revenues are shifted to the private sector.

“The development of partnerships between the private and public sectors should be based on participatory approaches and adequate information about the scope and nature of private provision. This will help in planning, training, monitoring and improving service delivery and accountability to the population at the primary care level, thus strengthening the PHC in many settings,” he said. — DayakDaily