The healthcare system in Malaysia has been grappling with multiple problems for a considerable period, including a shortage of healthcare practitioners such as physicians and nurses due to the contract system as well as insufficient infrastructure and unsustainable healthcare financing.
One of these issues recently became a hot topic of discussion after a viral tweet brought renewed attention to the questionable state of government hospitals and clinics.
An individual on social media with the username @anifaresailema shared images of a dilapidated government clinic, revealing unsanitary seating arrangements and exposed electrical wiring. Without a doubt, the condition appeared dismal.
“So sad to see our government clinic like this. Where did all of our money go? Isn’t it supposed to go towards improving our public facilities? Meanwhile, in neighbouring countries, they have Subway and Starbucks, but here I can’t even sit down because I don’t want to dirty my pants,” she said.
“The design is very ancient, but they only accept payment by card only although this neighborhood is full of old people who usually use cash, even I use cash.”
“I feel sorry for the doctors who work here because it must be depressing to work in such an environment. They spent years to become doctors.”
“In a way, I am thankful I didn’t pursue medicine in Malaysia because of this. You have to see patients who are sick and moody. At least if you get a beautiful clean environment, you would be more determined to work. I mean aren’t clinics and hospitals supposed to be hygienic in the first place??” she added.
Despite healthcare receiving the second-highest allocation under the unity government’s maiden budget with RM36.3 billion, health experts argue that it is insufficient to address these issues.
Malaysia’s heavily subsidized government healthcare system has numerous advantages, including affordability, comprehensive coverage and reduced out-of-pocket expenses.
It ensures that healthcare services are accessible to a significant portion of the population.
However, challenges such as strains on public healthcare infrastructure, limited availability of specialized services, and the need for financial sustainability remain.
Last year, former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin warned that Malaysia’s public health care system, which charges RM1 and RM5 for outpatient and specialist care respectively at Ministry of Health (MOH) facilities, is unsustainable.
Khairy said government expenditure on health increased 190 percent over the past 14 years, rising from RM12.6 billion in 2006 to RM36.6 billion in 2021.
He revealed that the government’s collection from the RM1 and RM5 medical fees, as stipulated under the Fees (Medical) Order 1982 and Fees (Medical) (Amendment) Order 2017, equaled only one percent of the amount spent on public health care.
While some users on Twitter echoed Khairy’s remarks, others shared their experiences receiving treatment at government clinics.
The experiences shared by individuals on social media further emphasize the need for improvements in the cleanliness, design, and accessibility of public healthcare facilities.
Addressing these challenges will require concerted efforts and increased investment to ensure a sustainable and efficient healthcare system that meets the needs of the Malaysian population.