Healthcare- The rights for all

Privatization or corporatization is not the answer. Managing the finance is the answer.

By Dr. Rafick

The Terengganu MB has just announced that the State has set aside a special allocation of RM10 million for the treatment of chronic patients next year. It is a noble thing coming from the State of Terengganu but isn’t there is something wrong here from a country which provides healthcare for the minimum cost of RM1? In a country where healthcare is free why do people need to go on TV and cries their heart out to seek financial assistance for treatment. Why does the government need to set aside separate funds at the federal and state level to support the chronically ill? This one time fund seems to come and go in fashion like a yo-yo.

Several weeks ago there in parliament, the Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai that his ministry will study the call to privatise the running of ambulance services in the country. The business of privatization of healthcare has been around for sometime. In the early 2000 some very close friend of mine who were powerful and might in the Government Emergency Healthcare and with links to the some corporate figures in banking took the necessary steps in getting a piece of the pie in the ambulance service. My friend was planning for his own retirement plan and not focusing on the ambulance services in this country.

A few days ago, I saw Michael Moore shows the reality of healthcare services in the USA and compared it with the Cubans, Canadians, France and the Brits. The Corporate America has taken over healthcare in the US which led to the deprivation of services to those who needs them. The show presented the ugly side of America healthcare system where patients were thrown out on the streets by private hospitals. The show also showed the beautiful side of healthcare in Canada where people gets free healthcare.

My own observation is that Malaysia healthcare system is generally good. There certainly plenty of room for improvement in terms of efficiency. In Malaysia people can still get a decent and almost free healthcare service where the maximum income tax rate is 27%. In Australia, Canada and the UK it goes up as high as 58%. In Canada there is a federal and territorial tax. But then why is that we see people crying on TV and begging for financial help from the public? This cyclical moment always comes in like clock work every year.

Healthcare is a public right. Privatizing part or whole of healthcare services is wrong and forcing people to pay is wrong. There is enough evidence in Corporate America on the ills of the healthcare system that led to deprivation of services to the people. In Malaysia, we must retain the beautiful structure which is currently in place. What we need to do is to improve the efficiency and stop wasting money by doing unnecessary experiments like the Tele-health program. At the moment, hundreds of millions of Tele-health equipment is lying idle in many government hospitals in Malaysia since 1998.