Private hospitals have been of service to govt in combating Covid-19

APHM says it is ready to work with MoH in managing the current surge of Covid-19 cases

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

THE private healthcare sector has always been involved in combating the Covid-19 outbreak since the beginning, said Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib.

“This includes helping to refer possible cases and setting up private testing facilities where the public could get tested and find out their status.

“The issue is whether the facilities would be available and whether the private hospitals would be willing to lease their intensive care units (ICUs) for the Covid-19 response,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

He also urged private hospitals to be prepared in the event that the government’s ICU facilities exceed their existing capacity.

Commenting on private hospitals’ Covid-19 tests, Azrul said they are certainly not cheap, and the government is currently absorbing the entire cost of testing for the thousands who are undergoing screening.

“There is no such subsidisation or cost-sharing for the private sector, therefore the patient would have to pay the cost of the test.

“It might be possible to get a rapid test kit for a lower price in the future but for now, the lowest charge is around RM550,” he added. Previously, the Health Ministry (MoH) stated that it trained the private sector on how to obtain the Covid-19 samples, but the patient would have to pay up to RM700 for the service.

Many people have expressed that it is unreasonable for private hospitals to charge such a hefty amount for a single test and that they should be considerate at the time of crisis.

Azrul also suggested that the government should adopt a similar approach as South Korea as the public hospitals are expected to get crowded with more people coming in for Covid-19 screening.

“South Korea has conducted over 300,000 tests, far more than any other country, with the intention of isolating and treating as many people and as early as possible.

“With that in mind, Malaysia should consider a targeted testing exercise starting with communities in the identified hotspots,” he said.

He added that the government could consider setting up booths like what was done in South Korea.

“By identifying and treating infections early, and segregating mild cases in isolation wards, we could keep our hospitals reserved only for the most critical patients,” Azrul said.

Meanwhile, the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) said it is ready to work with MoH in managing the current surge of Covid-19 cases.

Its president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said the ministry has met with public and private healthcare providers recently to work out strategies for public-private partnership in managing this situation.

“APHM also met with a good number of its member hospitals to strategise and come up with recommendations on how best this public-private partnership will take place.

“It is time we work together for the good of the nation more so in these trying times,” he said in a statement recently.