PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang (pic), a pioneer surgeon who helped set up the National Heart Institute or Institut Jantung Negara (IJN), has urged the Health Ministry to take over the running of IJN from the Finance Ministry.
Dr Yahya is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir’s personal cardiovascular surgeon and has performed two coronary artery bypasses on him.
He said that as a pioneer who has been involved in the corporatising of the institution in 1992, he expressed concerns that it is now leaning towards private care.
“If you have a very senior ex-government servant seeing a doctor in IJN, it will take the whole day, but if you have the extra dollars, you can see the doctor in half-an-hour,” he said.
Dr Yahya raised this during the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute’s (ASLI) ‘Til Eleven Morning Insights with the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzukefly Ahmad on the topic Innovation and
Competitiveness in Health and Paitient Care via Public and Private Partnership on Friday (March 8).
“If you ask me how I would do it differently, I’d say IJN should be a Health Ministry Incorporated product that is based on service, rather than profit,” said Dr Yahya.
He said he knew it was a sensitive issue, but he was passionate and proud of IJN and its achievements and was concerned that its direction was leaning towards private care when it was built with taxpayer funds.
In response, Dr Dzukefly said that he has raised the matter in the Cabinet meeting.
"For the time being, IJN is still under Finance Ministry and not the Health Ministry, but there has been an effort to move it to the Health Ministry,” he said, adding that he would take note of his comment.