Malaysia’s health system must adapt to evolving circumstances

This will ensure the healthcare providers continue to rise to the challenges left behind by both Covid-19 and the economic uncertainties

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / TMRpic

THE healthcare system must continue to modernise itself to keep up with the fluidity of the industry where breakthroughs are continuously being uncovered.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years was indeed a wake-up call.

“It has been an opportunity for us to acknowledge the gaps that need to be filled and work together towards the common goal of strengthening Malaysia’s healthcare system,” he said at the opening ceremony of the KPJ Healthcare Conference 2022 yesterday.

Dr Azmi said although the healthcare industry demonstrated resilience and ability to bring new products, services, innovation and technology to the market quickly under such high pressure and demands, the public and private sectors were yet to be perfectly integrated.

He said although the country has entered the endemic phase, it was imperative that healthcare providers continue to rise to the challenges left behind by both Covid-19 and the economic uncertainties.

“We still have numerous challenges, including staffing and having enough beds, equipment and medicine, as well as isolation facilities,” he added.

Dr Azmi also said conferences are important for medical professionals to come together to brainstorm and discuss pertinent topics and issues regarding the healthcare industry in the post-pandemic era.

“There will be many insightful conversations surrounding these topics, which I hope will be beneficial to all.

“We are definitely grateful for the assistance provided by private healthcare providers such as KPJ Healthcare throughout the pandemic. Support was given in the areas of vaccination, decanting of patients and the donation of medical equipment,” he said.

Dr Azmi added that public-private partnerships (PPPs) were originally confined to the traditional infrastructure sectors such as transport and energy, but are now increasingly being applied to social infrastructure sectors, particularly for the delivery of healthcare services.

Presently, Malaysia’s dual healthcare system comprises both public and private healthcare providers. 

While private providers mostly operate in urban areas, the public healthcare sector is fundamental to Malaysia’s health ecosystem. 

The public sector caters for two thirds of outpatient and inpatient cases, but 75% of specialists in Malaysia are in the private sector.

“Resources, burden of work and data are not easily shared between the two, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment, unnecessary repeat investigations and added costs.

“Nonetheless, in the most unexpected of times and under emergency conditions, the public and private sectors did meet. The government procured services for vaccinations and sent non-Covid-19 cases to private hospitals. 

“To effectively maximise all the existing healthcare capacities in Malaysia and bridge the gaps, we need to seriously look into expanding and enhancing such PPPs further. 

“Close partnerships between sectors can also increase treatment options for our lower and middle-income groups, as well as ensure continuity of care, particularly for patients with chronic diseases,” he concluded.