Khairy: Health White Paper to see Malaysia shift from ‘sick care’ to primary care

Khairy Jamaluddin

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Sept 6: Health reforms will see Malaysia shift from ‘sick care’ to healthcare and wellness through the Health White Paper (HWP), says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said presently, the health sector is leaning towards secondary and tertiary care or curative aspect when it is supposed to move towards providing primary care and the community.

“This does not mean I am going to invest less in hospitals but I am going to make sure that what I invest in hospitals will give you better ‘bang for the buck’.

“Right now, you end up seeing cases which shouldn’t end up in hospitals, because of the lack of preventive strategy, the lack of enhanced primary healthcare and the fact that we have a system that puts the patients at the centre of the system with community care and social workers caring in the community end up in the hospitals.

“If you don’t believe me, go to the emergency department on weekends (and you will find) cases that shouldn’t be there are there clogging up our hospitals. Clinicians who should be attending to the most complicated curative cases or complex treatment are having to spend their time on cases which shouldn’t be in the hospitals in the first place.

“So we need to make sure that we enhance our primary healthcare and there has to be a renaissance for primary healthcare in the white paper,” he said in his opening remarks for the townhall session on HWP development held at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) Auditorium here last night (Sept 5).

He further said the new health reforms will get into people’s behaviour to guide them in terms of better lifestyle and encourage them to undergo health screening for early diagnosis and prevention.

He also said the public health expenditure in Malaysia should be increased to five per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to meet the benchmark for an upper middle-income country. Presently, Malaysia is only allocating 2.59 per cent of its GDP.

Additionally, he said the HWP will put an emphasis on devolution of power and digitalisation in the public health administration and structure to eradicate the significant bureaucracy issue in the public healthcare system.

“At the back of all these reforms, we need to make sure we have a modern healthcare system but we cannot have this when most of our hospitals are still ‘manual’.

“Out of 148 hospitals under MOH, I was told only 30 have Hospital Information System (HIS). Not even in SGH and Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (HKL) have HIS. They are fully manual hospitals.

“Thus, asking five per cent of the GDP is fair. We want to make sure that we have electronic medical records, we also need to make sure that we understand that the patient’s journey in our new vision of healthcare is very clear,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily