Monday, December 15, 2008


I spend the whole weekend ( besides golf ) discussing this issue with my senior colleagues. I wanted to understand more of the background and more of its implication.
As usual, it would appear that the medical fraternity was consulted, way back in the early nineties ( exact dates eludes us ). Of course, there were discussion ( before my time ) and recommendations were made, in particular, that only certain areas of need, in the Malaysian medical sector, should be opened first so that our healthcare can improved. These are sectors like university teaching, preventive medicine, epidermiology etc. Also, these were sectors where the medical businessmen had little to gain. No money to make. As usual, at the actual WTO meetings, the medical boys were not present. At the beginning of 2008, my colleague received news that MOH had agreed to open ALL sectors, in the name of free trade. Obviously, businessmen are involved, who is driving this " liberalisation " agenda. So I asked my colleagues over the weekend, what can we do? Obviously Government-linked businessmen, have more say about healthcare than us. Healthcare is a business where there is money to be made. Of course the issue of laws to protect patient was discussed. The laws are being formulated and will eventually be tabled and hopefully enforced. BUT, when you deal with government-linked businessmen, even laws are have their limitations. Remember " correct! correct! correct! ". While throughout the whole weekend, I arrived at the following conclusion :-
1. The Malaysian medical market, will be opened, whether we like it or not, by 2013, because the medical businessmen want it It is business. It would appear, that the MOH / government, is a another vehicle for the businessmen to do business. It is all about money.
2. As at 2008, there are inadequate laws to protect patients. For example, in Malaysia, there is no law defining who is a specialist? Not yet. Even if there were laws, the powerful, government-linked businessmen, will find a way around it. If we ask for more laws, to try and protect doctors, the government and their businessmen, will say that we are trying to protect our turf. So we will continue to emphasize that measures must be taken to protect patientcare.
3. All of us better be prepared, get orgainise, before the floodgates open in 2013, or even earlier, depending on the powers that be. The specialist first and then the primarycare ector.
4. In globalisation, there is strength in numbers and of course, plenty of money helps. Small, solo practice, beware of extinction.
5. Do not count on the government to protect us. We only hope that they will be reasonable, and be a little concern about standard of patientcare.
6. I will continue to keep all of you posted, if I am still included in the discussion.

Liberalisation of the Malaysian medical sector, will bring a new chapter in our healthcare delivery. I only hope that it will be for the better.

Malaysia boleh.

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