Govt won't compel private healthcare sector to work with Health Ministry, says Dr Dzul

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not make it mandatory for private healthcare providers to collaborate with the Health Ministry to extend medical care to the needy, says Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

The Health Minister said although the public sector needed all the help it could get to provide top-notch healthcare to the people, it was better to achieve such collaboration through awareness and understanding.

Earlier on Friday (Feb 23), Dr Dzulkefly witnessed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing between his ministry and IHH Healthcare to renew its extended care to a new batch of 500 needy cancer patients in the latter's hospitals nationwide free of charge.

The event also saw the minister launching the Emergen-Sync project by Gleneagles Hospital here.

“Our approach is to make the private healthcare sector understand that the way forward is to collaborate and partner with the Health Ministry.

"It is a prerequisite to enhance value-based delivery. We at the ministry are custodians of health in the public and private sectors.

“Making it mandatory for the private sector to collaborate is not required for the time being. What is important is that private sector players themselves, out of their own conviction and commitment, help us with the pandemic and infectious diseases.

"In managing chronic diseases, this is where the (private) sector can come on board to work with us... (and) specialists from the ministry can utilise and leverage on private healthcare facilities,” said Dr Dzulkefly.

Earlier, in his speech, he said that with cancer being among the top four killer diseases in the country and treatment being costly, the IHH initiative to provide care free of charge to 500 patients recommended through public healthcare was greatly appreciated.

“According to a 2023 Statistics Department report, cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia, rising from 10.5% in 2021 to 12.6% in 2022.

"Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma and liver cancer had the highest incidence rates during this period.

“Based on Malaysia’s 2023 Health Facts, cancer accounts for 26.44% of deaths in private hospitals and 9.29% in government hospitals, the fourth leading cause of death in the latter.

“Approximately one in 10 people in Malaysia may be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. For this reason, the ministry is prioritising cancer care to ensure people receive holistic care in a timely manner without any financial constraints,” he added.

He said the partnership with IHH was also in line with the National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme (2021-2025).

IHH chairman Tan Sri Azlan Hashim said in his speech the free treatment was part of IHH’s flagship "Life Renewed" programme.

“This started over a decade ago in 2012. Since then, IHH has been offering free treatment in Malaysia for underserved patients, benefitting about 2,600 people to date,” said Azman.

Meanwhile, Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur CEO Hoo Ling Lee said the Emergen-Sync project, with its tagline "Rapid Rescues, Real-Time Data”, aims to deliver responsive accident and emergency services to patients through advanced technology.

“(It) allows immediate access to critical patient information, ensuring seamless coordination between emergency medical teams and hospital staff.

“Fundamentally, it speeds up the sharing of patient information and decision-making during emergency medical situations, enabling us to provide urgent and efficient patient care for survival,” said Hoo.

Also in attendance were Health Ministry acting secretary-general (Finance) Datuk Seri Norazman Ayob and IHH Healthcare Malaysia CEO Jean Francois Naa.

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