Prioritise public healthcare efficiency

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Health Minister needs to focus on his core KPI- improving public healthcare delivery.

Firstly, I would like to record my sincerest appreciation to the Ministry of Health for their brave effort as our frontliners during the pandemic. They have done a stellar job and kudos to them all for all their hard work in enabling the transition to the endemic phase of Covid-19.

While it is understandable that our public healthcare system is recovering from the challenges of the pandemic, there are serious issues that the Ministry of Health must look into in improving the efficiency of our public healthcare system.

As a pensioner with some ailments, I rely on Government hospitals for my regular check-ups, follow-ups and prescriptions for my medicine around Klang Valley. I noticed in the past few months my healthcare facility is always running low on the stock of some of the medicine I am prescribed. Some of the pills I have to take are already generic medicines.

When pressed for the supply, the hospital staff will always complain about government not having enough budget to stock up.  I am always told by the dispensary staff to wait my turn as the queue is long or go buy these medicines on my own. I have done that at times, but of course, this eats into my monthly budget and savings.

For my wife’s ailment, she had been referred from one government facility to the other, and it is also far from where we live. Waiting time to see doctors is long and sometimes it is rescheduled due to the doctor’s busy schedule.

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In my golden years, I am living frugally on my government pension and still have dependents. My wife and I will always have to make multiple trips to the hospital which is an additional strain for myself and my family.

Taxi rides are additional costs which I can barely afford, what more multiple times. Buying the medicine on my own will eat into my meagre pension. Already as it is, prices of goods, especially food has increased multifold in the past year. I believe many pensioners, especially those lower ranking civil servants such as myself on a small pension can relate to this situation. I understand times are tough, we have to tighten our belts.

However, I cannot help but feel let down by our public healthcare system and it hurts to know that a certain VVIP criminal can be given better treatment according to his whims and fancies. I too gave my life in service to our nation in my small way and did not take a single sen from corruption when in service. In my old age, I am entitled to good care by the Government, that is the benefit of being a civil servant. That was the deal.

I have to say our Health Minister is doing a good job in pushing for increase in budget for the Ministry. But he must focus. He is taking on too much from addressing mental health to legalizing medical marijuana and banning smoking for 18-year-olds. These are all good policies but he must focus on his core KPI- improving public healthcare delivery. No double standards, please. And don’t be side-tracked by politics. Focus on serving the general public.

I hope that the Minister and the Ministry will make reforms to improve public healthcare efficiency. This is a serious matter. We must continue to improve so that more Malaysians can get better treatment, not just the select few.

The views expressed here are strictly those of Lim Choo Kiang from Segamat, Johor.