28 March 2008

Act unfair to doctors

The Star

AS our Prime Minister announced his new Cabinet and as the unprecedented general election results unfolded before our eyes, what was clear to all Malaysians, regardless of race, gender, religion and profession, was that our destiny and objectives are the same. That is: equality, fairness and the ability to share and prosper together as one race in this great nation of ours.

One of the very important tasks ahead for the new Health Minister and the Cabinet to look at is the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which came into force last year amid an outcry by private doctors throughout the country.

With the usual government modus operandi of implementation of similar regulations like the introduction of Fomema to monitor foreign workers' health and the proposed E-kesihatan to monitor transport workers' health which was later scrapped, the stakeholders i.e. the private doctors and even patients do not play any major part in its formation.

The threat of a RM300,000 fine for not registering is enough to send all private doctors scurrying for the registration forms. The concession was that the authorities will not use the Act without due care and disregard to the private practitioners and that its main objective is to weed out bogus doctors and unqualified practitioners.

It is now necessary to ask why is a fully qualified doctor from a local university with a valid annual practising certificate that qualifies him to practise professionally in this country as in the case of Dr Basmullah Yusom languishing in jail because of the PFHSA?

His only crime is of course failing to register his clinic as he is planning to move to another locality soon.

I speak for myself, but I also believe that I speak for a big majority of private doctors in this country, that the PFHSA should be repealed.

Most doctors, whether in government service or the private sector, have only one main objective in mind and that is only their patients' welfare and health first and foremost.

I am not suggesting that errant doctors or practices should not be regulated. But there are many Acts in place already to do that and the fact remains that the PFHSA has too many regulations that can be yielded and enforced in so many forms that many doctors are objecting too.

In all fairness, the PFHSA should also be renamed and revamped as the Facilities and Health Services Act without the word “private” as I believe that the same high standards should be demanded for all health facilities and services, be it private or government, as all Malaysians are equal under the law in this great nation of ours.

It is the fervent wish and hope of many doctors that this great injustice called the PFHSA is corrected swiftly and effectively by the new Cabinet in this dawn of a new era in Malaysian history.

Kota Kinabalu.

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