Just when you thought the BN federal government would put a cap on the number of private hospitals, it does the reverse. It approves licences for 45 new private hospitals.
Mind you, this will worsen the brain drain from general hospitals and lengthen their waiting lists. The irony is that these licences have been approved at the onset of an economic recession, when thousands of Malaysians will think twice about being treated at private hospitals – simply because they can no longer afford them – and instead turn to general hospitals.
Even before the approval of these private hospitals, we could expect longer queues in our general hospitals because of the recession. But now, if these new private hospitals pinch more staff from the GHs resulting in a shortage of specialists and doctors in the GHs, the majority of Malaysians will suffer from even poorer service.
But the BN federal government, like the Pakatan governments in certain states, appears more concerned about “medical tourism” for private hospitals and the interests of the well-heeled. For instance, Pantai Holdings, ironically 60 per cent owned by Khazanah, aims to add five new hospitals to its existing stable of nine.
In the process, the poor, who cannot afford quality treatment, are neglected and forgotten.
This report from the Business Times:
Nod for 45 new private hospitals
By Vasantha Ganesan
THE government has approved licences for a total of 45 new private hospitals and this will grow the number of beds at private hospitals by a third to 15,178.
As at end of 2008, Malaysia had a total of 209 registered hospitals with a total of 11,689 beds.
“Since the implementation of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and its regulations in 2006, we have received 55 applications for the establishment of new private hospitals, of which 45 have been approved,” the Minister of Health Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.
The 45 hospitals have a total of 3,489 beds.
“…the number of private hospitals operating in the country has increased almost two fold from 135 at the end of December 2001 to 209 by the end of December 2008,” he added.
Liow was speaking to reporters yesterday following the launch of “Rebirth of Pantai” for Pantai Holdings Bhd.
On whether the healthcare sector can expect anything from the second stimulus package, Liow said there will be some goodies in store to boost medical tourism and training for nurses.
“We should prepare for medical tourism and take it to the next level … we should promote this sector further,” he said, adding that medical tourism has been identified as a key sector to generate economic growth.
A second stimulus package to boost the economy will be announced on March 10 2009, adding to the RM7 billion stimulus package announced last November. – By Vasantha Ganesan