I AM a young doctor who has just started to learn about the reality of access to healthcare.
Coming from a humble background, I can emphatise with the people who are somewhat disadvantaged when it comes to getting healthcare.
What makes me sad is that they often just laugh off the situation, with remarks like, “This is how the world works” and “Welcome to the real world”.
Apparently it is deemed acceptable that the person with more money is entitled to better care, often at the expense of those who have less. The queue is different for everyone. Treatment is different from one person to another. Different patients with the same disease would have different courses of treatment. I can give plenty of examples.
Those who have money will go to the most senior doctors, who get their years of experience by treating the poor.
So when you have money, you don’t have to take part in providing a learning curve to the young doctors.
Then there is the issue of where doctors are placed. This is an issue that has been going on for years.
We cannot actually blame these doctors who do not want to be away from the comfort of families, entertainment, connectivity, and a good future.
It is understandable why doctors are still packing up, overflowing the cities and big towns, leaving very few in the the rural areas.
We can have 20 doctors seeing 20 patients a day in the town, but at the same time, there is one doctor seeing 200 patients in the rural area.
Is this an acceptable standard of care for the rural patients?
Yet another example of such social injustice is where the hospitals are built. The best facilities are almost always at the biggest city in the state.
If we have 200 doctors in the rural areas but with no modern facilities, it is pointless. At the same time, if we have all the expensive modern facilities in the rural area with only one doctor, it would also be pointless.
This brings me to the most important message that I want to convey in this piece.
We need holistic development. If we build a world-class hospital in a less developed state, for example, we need to have a world-class connectivity of roads and public transport.
There are many good projects we have put in place, like mobile clinics, Flying Doctors service, and hundreds of new clinics and hospitals across the country.
But these must also include the simultaneous development of roads and public transport so that the patients can gain access to such facilities. How can we claim success when patients earning RM70 a week have to spend RM40 on transport just to see us in the clinic for a follow-up?