Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Malaysian Doctor

I read the recent article by "A Malaysian Doctor" regarding Sungai Buloh Hospital and the comments from readers with interest.

The author has put forward his/her concerns regarding the deplorable state of government health service as a doctor in the system. However, I personally think the article is somehow too personal and emotional.

Now I fully agree that there is so much more we must do to improve the service. There are indeed many weaknesses in our system; overcrowding ward, fatigue doctors, lack of forward thinking policies and others as correctly pointed out.

It would take us days to finish discussing these and other weaknesses. But there are a few questions that I always find it difficult to answer when we talk about healthcare system. 

Number one; Is our state of healthcare beyond help? Well, the picture painted by the esteemed author is suggesting that we are in very deep trouble - patients awaiting admission for days, standard of care received is depending on patient's luck and sick patients turned away due to overcrowding. 

I believe that there is some truth in that but I dont think that it is as bad, at least not in where I serve. I think as a medical staff, we should be mindful in our comments about fellow colleagues and refrain from suggesting praying for caring doctors or what not.

Number two: Are the weaknesses due to not spending enough money on healthcare? United States spend the most per GDP in the world but the healthcare there is far from perfect. Nearer to home, does Singapore has an exemplary healthcare system that we would want to adopt? 

All health systems in the world has weaknesses, and this is because healthcare is made to run on a limited resources, be it big or small budget, with an ever increasing patients and ever increasing costs. 
Number three and my main point in writing this piece; Who we should blame for this overcrowding in hospital?

I agree that the rising cost of living would increase the number of patients seeking care in the public hospitals, which is already highly subsidies by the taxpayers. 

It is not unreasonable to blame our politicians for the rising cost of living. We have the right to demand for better management of our country, just like our patients have the right to demand for good service from us. It is a trust and responsibility tasked.

But we must bear in mind that rising cost of living is not the only reason that are increasing burden of care in public hospitals. 

The demographics of an ageing and growing population, the increasingly unhealthy lifestyles predisposing to certain diseases, the exponential population geo-shift due to urban immigration, the influx of both legals and illegals immigrants bringing with them communicable diseases and poor sanitation and hygiene, all would have much more impact on the raising burden on public sectors, more than just purely rising cost of living.

I am sure everyone agrees that there are indeed so much to be done by those in power. We have all the rights to ask for a better tomorrow. Perhaps those in power should look into prevention of preventable diseases, adherence to healthy life styles, proper hygiene facilities and improving health education and reducing abuse of healthcare system.

Building more hospitals or reducing cost of living would not help as much.

I think rather than pointing fingers and praying for patients to have beds and less fatigue consultant to oncall, let us put our biggest efforts together and work hard to improve ourselves first, as caring doctors and stick to "Kami Sedia Membantu"

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