Saturday, April 05, 2008

Health Minister's Decision To Send Patients To India For Heart Surgery - Medical Outsourcing?

Sending patients overseas for treatment is a retrogressive step in healthcare development, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

MMA president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said they received the decision by the Health Minister to send patients to India for heart surgery with mixed feelings, as it seemed like the healthcare industry had moved “back to square one”.

He said there were about 20 private and public hospitals in the country performing heart surgery now. “Prior to this, 20 years ago, we were sending patients to Britain, Australia, the Philippines, and other countries for surgery. It now looks like we are back to square one,” he said in a statement.

Dr Khoo said since cost was cited as the main reason for sending heart patients to India, the Government had to review the cost of surgeries in the country and work out a sustainable package.

He said although the cost of surgery was relatively low overseas, there were other costs, such as travel and accommodation of accompanying persons.

“Patients who develop complications will find it stressful to stay in a foreign country for a prolonged period of time. Post surgical follow-ups is important, too,” Dr Khoo added. (The Star)

***** For how long more are we going to depend on foreign medical facilities and expertise? We have spent hundreds of millions of RM in training world-class heart surgeons and establishing the internationally renowned IJN, yet we are forced to seek outside help even now, ostensibly 'to cut cost'.

Needless to say India has an overwhelming number of excellent private hospitals and internationally acclaimed cardio-thoracic surgeons like Prof Emeritus K.M. Cherian. But they too started just like us and thirty to forty years ago sent their patients to hospitals in the west. Yet over time they have taken leaps and bounds in setting up more and more cardio-thoracic centres to cater to the increasing demand there as well as from South Asia and the Middle East. Our surgeons are just as skilled as theirs but where they trump us is in the ability to deliver first-rate service at an affordable price.

We too must take a leaf out of the Indian experience and strive to provide quality treatment at reasonable cost. This can be done if the private sector works in tandem with the government. What the Minister of Health is proposing is nothing but another form of outsourcing and should be a highly temporary one designed expressly to clear the long waiting list of urgent cases at IJN.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

shortage of doctors? not enough places in local varsities to train doctors? entice the best brains back to practice in malaysia?

as long as we refused to acknowledge the fact and accept the best to be trained as doctors - status quo remains.

1:57 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the not too distant future, Malaysia's health tourism industry will grind to a complete halt, as overseas patients fly to India's (and China's) hospitals for 10% of the cost in Malaysia

2:00 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reasons why India's healthcare charges are so much cheaper

3:01 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole thing boils down to dollars n cents, quality of service and doctors expertise. MMA should take a look at the cost in the private hospitals in Malaysia. It will make u vomit blood. Even an hour of external blasting of kidney stone in private hospital cost around 3k. In GH is free. If GH is better organised with better service n less waiting period n cut down red tape, more ppl will go to GH n perhaps the private hospitals may lower the incredible cost. What is the role of MMA anyway. Even former PM TDM during his premiership, hashly critised the high bills of private hospitals.

9:24 PM GMT+8  

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