Presently most of these clinics are run by medical assistants, nurses and the shut down of these facilities is a result of low average intake of patients daily
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by BERNAMA
THE government has decided to cease the operation of 45 1Malaysia clinics for not being cost-effective, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
It was previously announced that 34 1Malaysia clinics will be closed. In a written reply to the Dewan Negara recently, Dr Dzulkefly maintained that the shut down of the medical facilities was a result of low average intake of patients daily and the availability of a nearby facility within a 5km-radius.
The clinics were also found to be outside the vicinity of a People’s Housing Project and has received the closure approval from the respective State Health Departments.
“As of April 1, 2019, a total of 20 1Malaysia clinics have been closed from the 45 approved. The shutdown process will be done via soft-landing until the rental contract expires.
“As such, the closure of the facilities will not affect existing services to the community, especially the low-income group, as they can still obtain health services from nearby facilities,” the minister added.
He was responding to a question from Dewan Negara Senator Datuk Mohan Thangarasu who requested the ministry to state the status of 1Malaysia clinics, number of clinics that have been shut down and the justification for the closures.
According to Dr Dzulkefly, the ministry is currently working to transform the operation of 1Malaysia clinics, now known as Community Clinics. Overall, there are 347 of such clinics nationwide. Apart from closures, some of the clinics will be upgraded.
In June last year, Dr Dzulkefly was quoted as saying that the Pakatan Harapan government will enhance these clinics by allocating doctors and a proper drug-dispensing unit to reduce patient’s waiting period. At present, most of the 1Malaysia clinics are run by medical assistants and nurses.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, who established the 1Malaysia clinics in 2010, had previously criticised the closure of the clinics.
In a Facebook post, Najib said the 1Malaysia Clinic initiative was intended to bring basic healthcare services closer to residential areas.
“The government wants to close 1Malaysia clinics. They say this is because it is not cost effective. That means the government incurred losses because of the clinics. Is this reason acceptable? They think this is a business?” Najib had asked.
Since its establishment nearly a decade ago, 1Malaysia clinics have received an average of 1.3 million patients annually, with the number hitting 6.59 million patients in 2017.
In the initial stage, the clinics offered basic services to treat fever, flu, cough and simple procedures such as wound dressings and lab tests. The services have since expanded to include treatments for chronic diseases and maternity care at selected areas.