Health care

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I spoke to a former senior officer of the Penang Veterinary Department about the rabies cases in Penang and these are the notes from my conversation with him:

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Well, well, well, what do you make of this study published in the British Medical Journal and reported in the New York Times?

One of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done, involving 90,000 women and lasting a quarter-century, has added powerful new doubts about the value of the screening test for women of any age.

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While the political elites live the high life obtaining the best medical and health care treatment, Steven Grumach shares with us his experience at a government general hospital. Bear in mind that the Malaysian government spends only about 2 per cent of GDP on public health care. A big chunk of the money goes to privatised hospital support services and privatised drug procurement.

A patient at the KL General Hospital (HKL) shares his experience:

I am a patient of our Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) and visit two specialist clinics regularly. It used to be four. I was warded in two different wards for biopsies and can attest that our hospitals are terribly overcrowded and rundown. The HKL is an old hospital, and I was born in the maternity section. Guess I will probably die there too.

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While political groups play on ethnicity and religion to strengthen their grip on power and divert attention from critical social issues, price hikes and corruption; while some political leaders seek the best medical treatment for themselves; while five-star ‘medical tourism’ is being promoted for better-off visitors; many Malaysians from the lower-income group and middle-class are silently feeling the strain of inadequate public health care infrastructure.

This was the scene that greeted me when I visited a friend at the Seberang Jaya Hospital on 4 January. A cubicle in a medical ward designed for six beds is now forced to accommodate 10 or 11 beds, making the whole cubicle congested.