A national doctors’ medical association is concerned that the Malaysia is rushing towards liberalizing its healthcare services without a proper regulatory framework, which will jeopardize the overall healthcare system.

The Federation of Private Medical Practitioner’s Association of Malaysia (FPMPAM) believes that although the basic aspects globalization are inherently good and in some ways inevitable, the Malaysian healthcare services sector in particular is not ready for this.

According to the President of FPMPAM Dr. Steven Chow, there is a need for ASEAN to move toward harmonization of healthcare standards (such as in the EU) before opening up market access but this should be done as a gradual process

“Currently, there is an absence of a suitable legal and regulatory framework to prevent the exploitation of the national healthcare market by foreign businesses which may be driven solely for commercial interests.

“In this weak regulatory environment, we can expect more resources to be poured into the more lucrative aspects of healthcare, jeopardizing the standard of healthcare in areas such as rural and preventative care.”

Dr. Chow said that without proper safeguards, the move will not answer but exacerbate Malaysia’s healthcare woes as market forces and business sense is unlikely to encourage foreigners to start their business in small towns, where the problem of shortage and poor access to healthcare services is more apparent.

“But more importantly, we cannot rush this process, especially if it is for the sake of boosting medical tourism. Healthcare is not just another business commodity.

“The government needs to answer how it sees the liberalization of healthcare fitting into the larger process of healthcare reforms earmarked under the 10th MP. We need to ensure that this move will benefit the people of Malaysia and not just businesses,” Dr. Chow said.

Dr. Chow also added that the framework must not compromise the quality of care and also be able to monitor the conduct of foreign doctors as well as provide an avenue to protect patients.

“There are too many unanswered questions on the macro and micro levels. Right now, if patients are shortchanged by a foreign doctor, they lack suitable avenues to seek redress.”

“What if the doctor absconds? What is there to prevent such business entities from just closing shop and disappearing when they are faced with problems?” said Dr. Chow.

Dr. Chow also highlighted that another area of concern is also about how to ensure that these doctors can uphold our standard of services in delivery and in other crucial areas such as local socio-cultural norms and doctor to patient communication.

The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) was signed in 1992 to liberalize the healthcare, air travel and electronic commerce areas by 2010. Signatory countries include Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. It does not include Japan or Korea.

The FPMPAM is the national medical body that aims to improve the quality of health care through continuing medical education, ethics advocacy and public outreach programs.

It consists of seven state-level associations and has over 5000 members, which are Private Medical Practitioners Association of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society, Perak Medical Practitioners’ Society, Private Medical Practitioners of Johor, Private Medical Practitioners’ Society Kedah/Perlis, Private Medical Practitioners Association, Pahang and Sarawak Private Medical Practitioners Association.


Released by the FPMPAM. For more information, kindly contact Gabriel at 012 300 1445/ [email protected]