Meeting Perak’s health needs

DIAGNOSED with liver cancer, a former teacher spent her entire life savings of RM400,000 for her treatment at a private hospital in Ipoh.

She was given three months to live but the treatment extended her life by another two years.

The deceased was very thrifty, says her family. Her wish was to send her only daughter to study abroad. But it was not meant to be.

Her story is not extraordinary though. Countless families have seen their entire life savings wiped out or have been forced to take up loans just to send their loved ones for medical treatment.

While public hospitals offer highly subsidised treatment for diseases like cancer, such services are only available in certain hospitals.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) council chairman Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh says the coming not-for-profit UTAR Hospital in Kampar, Perak, aims to complement the role of public hospitals.

For instance, cancer patients in Perak who need radiotherapy will be able to have it in the UTAR Hospital.

Currently, the service is not available in public hospitals in Perak and patients have to travel to Kuala Lumpur and Penang for treatment.

The same goes for key-hole surgeries.Emerging cell-based immunotherapy for cancer patients will also be available in the UTAR Hospital.

The hospital will also offer Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda treatment in collaboration with universities in China and India respectively.

Located in Bandar Baru Kampar, Dr Ting says the RM300mil hospital targets to open in 2021.

While charges will be affordable, he says the hospital, which is being set up by MCA, has plans to set up a medical fund to help the very poor who could not pay the charges.

There will be 250 beds for modern medicine and 100 beds for TCM and Ayurveda.

The hospital will also go into health tourism to support the nation’s economic transformation agenda.

Looking foward, Dr Ting says the hospital plans to add on another 250 beds in its next phase and expand its range of services to include, among others,  acute and long term management of stroke patients and cardiothoracic surgery.

And public health education to promote a healthy lifestyle – a form of preventive medicine – will also be UTAR Hospital’s priority, he adds, as well as teaching and research.