Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek is a typical MCA politician. He refuses to meet the Coalition and keeps all the interim reports away from the NGOs. He is even thinking about privatising the ambulance service in Malaysia. Public health care under his leadership is very worrying. Malaysians must act together to prevent the system from being destroyed by such politician.
Forum on Health Care Financing
“No” to any more new taxes on the rakyat!
“No” to any measures that will weaken the Government Hospitals further!
“No” to schemes that penalize GP’s for referring patients to Specialists.
“Yes!” A separate Health Commission for Health Care Personnel so that their pay scales can be improved.
“Yes!” Government allocation to health should be increased from RM 10 billion per year which is 2% of GDP, to at least RM 16 billion.
“Yes!” There should be a Moratorium on the setting up of any more Private Hospitals.
These were some of the decisions that emanated from the Forum on Health Financing Reform held today 25/3/07 at the Univ. Malaya, Post Graduate Centre Auditorium.
A Consultant, Mr Karl Karol, was appointed in June 2006 to plan Health Financing Reform for Malaysia. Although he has come up with 2 Interim Reports, neither of these have been released to any Consumer Group nor to the GMPPK. They have been chopped “sulit” and kept from public eye. The Final Report is due in April 2007, but still the Malaysian Public has not been given any idea as to the direction of the proposed changes.
It is for this reason that FOMCA, the GMPPK (Coalition Against the Privatisation of Health Services) and the UM General Staff Union decided that the issues being discussed by the Consultant and the Malaysian Government should be exposed to the Malaysian Public.
Although the Ministry of Health and the EPU declined to participate in this Forum, the GMPPK defied the OSA and presented a detailed analysis of the 200 page Interim Report that was submitted by the Consultant in February 2007
As Dr Subra, the GMPPK Chairman said, ” This not about building a nuclear bomb. This is about a basic need, and the public has the right to have a say!”
The 90 odd participants who attended this Forum were disturbed to hear that the Consultant is proposing a slate of neo-liberal measures and mechanisms. An ear-marked VAT (GST) is to be implemented to raise money for the National Health Fund which will then pay for treatment in both Government and in Private Hospitals. All government hospitals are to be corporatised so that they will behave like efficient businesses. Patients can only access the system through their designated GP. If they bypass their GP they will have to meet the costs themselves. Over use of the facilities will be curtailed by penalising the GPs who refer more than their quota!
The speakers, Ms Indrani (FOMCA), Dato Dr Toh Kin Woon (Penang State EXCO), Dr Subramaniam (GMPPK/Aliran) and Dr Kumar (GMPPK/PSM) stressed that Malaysia had a good and efficient health care system up till the 1980’s. The promotion of private hospitals after 1980 led to a severe brain drain such that at present only 30% of the specialists in the country are in government service, although 70% of inpatients still are admitted to government hospitals. Privatisation of pharmaceutical procurement and the 5 support services are among the main causes of rising costs.
“The implementation of neo-liberal measures have created the current problems in our health care system ,” Dr Kumar declared. “Now the Consultant is proposing even more neo-liberal changes claiming that these will correct the harm done by the first batch of neo-liberal changes!”
Dr Toh explained that health, like education, is a “merit good” – the benefit of which goes far beyond just the immediate consumer of that good. It has to be delivered by the government and not by for-profit businesses.
Many questions and ideas came up from the audience at discussion time. Kiren (CAP) felt that the government should be more open, and that the private sector should be controlled. Dr Chan Chee Khoon (Citizen Health Initiative) pointed out that the biggest 2 private hospital chains are controlled by government through the Johor SEDC and Khazanah. What is the role of government he asked.
Dr Rafael, a visitor from Puerto Rica, shared how neo-liberal measures like the ones in the Consultants Report have wrecked the Health Care System in his country and urged us to be vigilant. Dato Dr McCoy (Former President of the MMA) said that the root of the problem is the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discreditation of Socialism. The problem the whole world is facing is unfettered American Capitalism that has become arrogant as there is no longer any Socialist opposition. He argued that corporate tax in Malaysia is far too low, and that government should increase corporate tax if it needed more funds.
The consensus was that it is important that we act together to save our Health Care System. We need to take the message to our friends and families. Only by working together can we safeguard our health.
by Dr Kumar (PSM)