Rope in private healthcare sector in Covid-19 fight to help keep them afloat, says MMA

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the government to collaborate with private healthcare facilities in its fight against Covid-19 in order to ease the strain on public facilities.

Its president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy (pic) said this is also to help the survival of the private healthcare sector as many struggle to remain afloat as its facilities recorded fewer patients since the start of the MCO in March.

“Many clinics and hospitals nationwide were reporting reduced patient attendance, some by as much as 70% to 80% with significant income reduction and sustainability of their practice severely threatened,” he said in a statement Friday (Nov 20).

Dr Subramaniam cited lockdown rules and affordability as the reasons that made patients delay or avoid attending private clinics or hospitals.

He said many senior doctors are also contemplating closing their healthcare facilities or retirement, with an estimated 200 clinics nationwide expected to close down by year-end.

Dr Subramaniam said that a recent survey conducted by MMA Sabah branch revealed that with conditional MCO implemented in October, 70% of private general practitioners and specialists have a reduced patient load of over 50%.

“A total of 32% reported the need to close clinic temporarily for various reasons, with one of the main reasons being the need to quarantine due to Covid-19 exposure,” he said.

Should the current situation in Sabah continues, Dr Subramanian said 17% of practitioners estimate they would not be able to sustain their business in the next three months, with 33% stating they could only continue for the next six months.

“Only 25% in the survey estimated they can be sustainable for up to 12 months or more,” he added, noting only 14% of doctors surveyed said they were providing Covid-19 tests.

Dr Subramanian proposed that public collaboration and healthcare should be strengthened in both government and private sectors to address the issue.

He urged the government to support the private healthcare sector by also providing tax exemptions and grants to ensure the continuity of primary care in the sector.

“The outsourcing of services such as follow up of patients with non-communicable diseases (NCD) or antenatal care to general practitioner or elective operations by private specialists at an agreed sustainable rate should be considered,” he said.

Dr Subramanian believes that the cost effectiveness of outsourcing services and stimulus investments into private healthcare will also help expand people’s access to healthcare.

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