Public healthcare needs a shot in the arm

The long wait: More manpower is needed to reduce waiting times in government hospitals.

JOHOR BARU: The government should inject more resources into public healthcare and ensure its long-term sustainability, many Malaysians have urged.

Businessman Hussein Ibrahim said more money should be allocated to increase the staff in government hospitals, especially those in big cities such as Johor Baru.

The 60-year-old, who goes to Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) for monthly check-ups following a heart bypass surgery, said he noticed a dire lack of manpower.

He added that there were just too many patients seeking treatment at the hospital.

“I need to spend at least half a day each time I visit the hospital as there are just too many patients waiting for their turn. Some of the counters are also empty.

“For me, the most important thing is to increase manpower in the hospitals so patients do not have to wait too long and the staff would not be too burdened either,” he said in an interview.

Hussein added that more parking bays should also be available at the hospital.

“People are parking at the roadside as there are not enough places for them to park within the hospital compound.

“This means that patients, including senior citizens and those with disabilities, have to walk quite a distance just to get into the hospital,” he said.

Retiree K. Arumugan, 65, said the government should encourage medical professionals to remain in the civil service.

“Many specialists are opting to go to the private sector as they see it as a better option for their career.

“If this continues, we may not have enough medical professionals in government hospitals and have to wait longer to get treatment and surgery.

“I think a bigger budget should be allocated to attract specialists to remain in government hospitals. This is vital if we want to ensure that the public, both the rich and the poor, can get the best access to medical care,” he said.

Arumugan, who visits HSA once every six months for check-ups, said more money should be allocated to ensure that government hospitals do not face a shortage of medicines.

“Many depend on government health facilities for their medication as it is very expensive to buy from outside. The government must ensure that it has enough budget to allow for a continuous supply of medicine,” he added.

Dr Goh Aik Ping, who owns a clinic here, said apart from increasing healthcare expenditure, the government should also look into the sustainability of public medical facilities.

“At the moment, people are being charged between RM1 and RM5 to get treatments at government clinics, which is almost free.

“In the long run, this may not be that sustainable as medicines are not cheap. Apart from increasing the budget, there is also a need to re-evaluate medical fees for long-term sustainability,” he added.

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