Public healthcare needs a shot in the arm

JOHOR BARU: The government should invest more resources in public health care and ensure its long-term sustainability, many Malaysians have demanded.

Businessman Hussein Ibrahim said more money should be made available to increase staff in government hospitals, especially in big cities like Johor Baru.

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

He added that there were simply too many patients seeking hospital treatment.

“I have to plan at least half a day for each hospital visit because there are simply too many patients waiting their turn. Some of the counters are also empty.

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“For me, the most important thing is to increase the manpower in the hospitals so that the patients don’t have to wait too long and the staff isn’t burdened too much,” he said in an interview.

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

“People are parking on the side of the road as there is not enough parking space on the hospital grounds.

“That means patients, including the elderly and people with disabilities, have to travel quite a distance to get to the hospital,” he said.

Retiree K. Arumugan, 65, said the government should encourage medics to remain in public service.

“Many specialists decide to go into the private sector because they see it as the better option for their career.

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

“I think a bigger budget should be allocated to attract specialists to stay in state hospitals. This is critical if we are to ensure the public, both rich and poor, have the best access to healthcare,” he said.

Arumugan, who visits the HSA for checks every six months, said more money should be made available to ensure state hospitals are not short of medicines.

“Many rely on government health facilities for their medicines because it is very expensive to buy them from outside. The government needs to ensure it has enough budget to allow for a steady supply of medicines,” he added.

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dr Goh Aik Ping, who owns a clinic here, said the government should look at the sustainability of public medical facilities alongside rising healthcare spending.

“Right now, people are being charged between RM1 and RM5 to get treatment at government clinics, which is almost free.

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

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